They find water and minerals in samples of the asteroid Ryugu

Copper sulfide crystal from asteroid Ryugu. | Photo: JAXA.

Samples of the carbonaceous asteroid Ryugu that were brought to Earth by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft on December 6, 2020, they were analyzed by a group of scientists from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), who found water, carbon and other minerals such as calcium and aluminum.

What did they find on the asteroid Ryugu?

Between the main findings made by scientistsand which were published in the specialized journal Science, is it so:

magnetic minerals

Remanent magnetism detected in magnetite microcrystals, an iron ore made up of ferrous-diferric oxide. According to experts, these magnetic minerals They act like many small magnets and behave like a natural hard drive, recording a magnetic field that the rock felt more than 4.6 billion years ago.

water and carbon

were discovered fluid inclusions trapped in a large pyrrhotite crystal (iron sulfide) in one of the sample grains. This fluid contained H two O and CO twoas well as sulfur species and organic molecules.

The presence of water and CO two indicates that the main body of the asteroid Ryugu formed far from the Sun, where the H two O and CO two they could freeze into solids that could be included in the asteroid.

various minerals

In the ryugu samples small inclusions rich in calcium and aluminum (CAI) and fragments that resemble chondrules (< 30 microns), that is, submillimeter spheres composed of different minerals.

copper sulfide

in one of the grains a growth of crystals of copper sulfide (CuS) was discovered coral-shaped, showing root-shaped, branched and disc-shaped crystals. These coral crystals suggest that an environment not unlike Earth’s oceans existed within the main body of Ryugu.

Other findings

In addition to the findings, the experts, led by Professor Nakamura Tomoki of Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Science, ran computer simulations of the evolution of the parent asteroid believed to come from Ryugufrom its formation to its destruction in a catastrophic impact.

The simulation revealed that the collision that destroyed the main asteroid probably only raised the pressure and temperature of material near the impact site. The fragments that would become Ryugu they are consistent with material far from the impact region on the main body and from a range of different depths within the asteroid, JAXA reported.

The “initial stony materials analysis team” analyzed 17 grains and fine-grained dust from the Ryugu asteroid sample. Of these seven grains came from the site of the first contact (Chamber A) and 10 grains from the site of the second contact (Chamber C).

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