HONOLULU (KHON2) — Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa analyzed samples harvested from an asteroid.
Rock and mineral grains that are older than our solar system and have not been altered by Earth’s atmosphere, were returned to Earth by the Hayabusa 2 mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, according to UH.
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The asteroid that was analyzed, named Ryugu, found that it experienced some space weathering.
This weathering resulted in the partial melting of certain minerals and dehydration of the surface of the asteroid.
Ryugu orbits around the sun every 16 months, this gives researchers the opportunity to investigate the evolution of volatiles, like water and organic molecules.
“Observing that Ryugu has been dehydrated at its surface has implications for interpreting remote observations of other asteroids and airless bodies,” said Hope Ishii, HIGP astromaterials research scientist and study co-author.
The team’s results show that in the case of a C-type asteroid like Ryugu, the surface becomes covered by anhydrous, meaning it contains no water over time.
Asteroids that look dry on the surface may also be rich in water, potentially requiring revision of our understanding of the abundance of asteroid types and the history of the formation of the asteroid belt.
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Additional co-authors affiliated with HIGP are John Bradley, Kenta K. Ohtaki, David R. Frank and Kazuhide Nagashima.