Posted: Nov 30, 2021 15:54 GMT
After analyzing dust particles collected from an asteroid, the researchers concluded that the Sun created small amounts of water in them.
The origin of the water present on Earth could be related to the Sun. This was pointed out by researchers who analyzed samples from the surface of the asteroid Itokawa obtained by the Japanese probe Hayabusa2 and which were transported to Earth in 2010. Their intention was to observe if the The object contained a ‘volatile deposit’ of isotypes similar to that of the solar wind.
In their study, published by Nature Astronomy, specialists from the universities of Glasgow (United Kingdom) and Curtin (Australia), evaluated how the surface of the dust grain of that ordinary chondrite asteroid was affected by space weather and there they found enriched hydroxide and water, suggesting that hydrogen ions from the Sun were ‘implanted’ into the rock, storing water where it could not be touched.
This analysis was performed on the “first 50 nanometers or so of the surface of the Itokawa dust grains,” where the scientists discovered that there were up to 1% water.
In this way, they verified that its origin was related to the Sun, particularly the solar wind, which, when in contact with the dust particles found in certain types of asteroids, can generate a small amount of water.
“Our research suggests that solar wind created water on the surface of small grains of dust and this isotopically lighter water probably provided the rest of Earth’s water, “explained Phil Band, a planetary scientist at Curtin University.
Regarding the amount of water found in the dust particles, they estimate that S-type asteroids can host up to 20 liters per cubic meter of rock. Therefore, the research team suggests that isolated grains of dust in space may be a major source of water in the Solar System.
“Our research shows that the same space weathering process that created water on the Itokawa likely occurred on other airless planets, meaning that astronauts could process fresh supplies of water directly from dust on the surface of a planet, such as the Moon. “, they concluded.