Water has been found in an asteroid sample collected by Japan’s Hayabusa2 space probe, marking the first such discovery and shedding light on how the Earth’s oceans may have formed.
The findings were published Thursday in the journal Science by research teams from Tohoku University, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and elsewhere. Researchers analyzed samples from the Ryugu asteroid sent from the Hayabusa2.
The minute amount of water was discovered in an iron sulfide crystal’s indentation measuring several microns wide. It is estimated to be from roughly 4.6 billion years ago, soon after the solar system formed. The water appears to have been liquid while on Ryugu, rather than ice. The water was in a carbonated form, containing carbon dioxide, salts and organic material.
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