5.4g of rocks and dust from Ryugu asteroid what were they down to earth by Japanese space probe Hayabusa-2 They are an incredible treasure in the hands of science, which this week has begun to reveal their mysteries. Plus check it out The water consumed on Earth may have come from asteroidsAnd the It is now known that the same parent material is Older than our solar system.
The presence of this pre-solar material in Ryugu is not surprising, as similar ancient grains were previously found in various carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, They are chunks of carbon-rich space rock that escaped falling through Earth’s atmosphere to land on this planet.
Experts found it The ancient particles in the Ryugu samples are made of silicon carbide, a chemical compound not found naturally on Earth. According to the researchers behind the new study, there are different types of silicon carbide grains that differ in what scientists call isotopic signatures, or the number of neutrons in the nuclei of the carbon and silicon atoms that make up the compound.
In the studyPublished in the magazine Astrophysical Journal Letters, Researchers discovered types Previously known silicon carbide, But also an extremely rare form of silicate that is easily destroyed by chemical processes that occur in asteroids. The substance was found “in the least chemically altered part which would potentially protect it from such activity”.The researchers said in Release.
there was July 2019 When the Japanese mission Hayabusa2 landed on Ryugu, a near-Earth asteroid that completes one orbit around the sun every 16 months. The probe has returned to Earth approximately 5 grams of space dust, which has been analyzed in laboratories around the world since it arrived on Earth in December 2020.
In fact, in A separate investigation was also published analyzing material from Ryugu on Tuesday, August 16, in the journal Nature Astronomy. This research found compounds that cannot withstand temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), which, along with other findings, suggest that Ryugu formed in the outer part of our solar system and for some reason ended up near Earth.
The scientists behind this research used a different type of isotope analysis.as well as a technique called transmission X-ray microscopy, among other studies, according to A A statement they issued From the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which operates the Hayabusa2 mission. Both studies are examples of work that relies on bringing samples of asteroids to Earth for analysis using ground-based equipment.
“The opportunity to learn about these pills and study them in the lab can help us Understand the astrophysical phenomena that shaped our solar system“As well as other cosmic bodies,” said Larry Neteller, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University and co-author of the silicon carbide study.
found amino acids
Amino acids and other organic matter from asteroid Ryugu ‘could provide clues about the origin of life on Earth’According to researchers at Okayama University in Japan. “The discovery of amino acids capable of forming proteins is important because, unlike meteorites, Ryugu has not been exposed to the Earth’s biosphere,” say experts who have also studied space rock samples.
For this, “Their discovery shows that at least some of the building blocks for life on Earth could have formed in space environmentsThe researchers identified 23 different types of amino acids in 5.4 grams of black rock and dust samples collected from the asteroid by the Japanese Hayabusa 2 probe, whose capsule returned to Earth in late 2020 with its payload after a six-year mission.
Asteroid Ryugu (“Dragon Palace” in Japanese), Discovered in 1999, it is located more than 300 million kilometers from Earth and has a diameter of less than 900 meters. Scientists believe that some of the asteroid’s material formed about five million years after the birth of our solar system and was not heated above 100 degrees Celsius.
Ryugu samples “allow us to believe that amino acids were brought to Earth from space”, Kensei Kobayashi, an astrobiologist and emeritus professor at Yokohama National University confirmed. Another theory is that amino acids were formed in Earth’s early atmosphere by lightning strikes. They conclude, “Ryugu particles are undoubtedly some of the least polluting materials available in the Solar System for laboratory study, and ongoing research on these valuable samples will expand our knowledge of early Solar System processes.”