Saturday, March 23, 2019

Presence of Water Confirmed on Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu. Credit: Seiji Sugita et al., Science

A Japanese space research team says it has confirmed the presence of water on the asteroid Ryugu, where the Hayabusa2 probe is operating.

The team, whose members are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, and dozens of scientific institutes around the world, has examined the composition of rocks on the asteroid for two months by using infrared rays emitted from the probe.

The researchers now say they found an indication that water is contained in rocks on Ryugu.

They said this means there is water on Ryugu's surface, not as liquid or ice, but in the form of hydroxyl-bearing minerals.

Hayabusa2 landed on the asteroid and is believed to have collected rock samples in February.

The JAXA team says Ryugu may have been created when fragments from a celestial collision reaggregated.

A team member, Kohei Kitazato, says if Hayabusa2 brings back rock samples in 2020, that would lead to many discoveries. He said he hopes the mission will be successful.

Wednesday's online edition of the US journal Science carries an article outlining the team's findings.


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