After analyzing rare samples collected on a six-year Japanese space mission, scientists began to think that water might have been brought to Earth by asteroids in the solar system.
By examining material brought back to Earth from the Ryugu asteroid in 2020, researchers seek to shed light on the origin of life and the formation of the universe.
This 5.4 gram rock and dust was collected by a Japanese space probe called Hayabusa-2, which landed on the celestial body and collected samples.
Studies on the material began to be published, and in June a group of researchers said they had found organic matter, suggesting that amino acids, the building blocks of life on Earth, may have formed in space.
A new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy describes how Ryugu specimens hold clues that may shed light on the mystery of how oceans arose on Earth billions of years ago.
“Organically rich C-type asteroids could be one of Earth’s main sources of water,” the study says.
Source may be outside the Solar System
Scientists think the source of such material likely came from “outside the Solar System,” but it is believed that “it is unlikely to be the only source of organic matter that could have come from early Earth.”
Hayabusa-2 was launched on the Ryugu mission some 300 million kilometers away in 2014 and returned to Earth orbit two years ago to drop a capsule containing the sample.