The team that has investigated the samples of the remote asteroid Ryugu found carbonated water with salts and organic matter inside, a finding that they say, would support the hypothesis that life came to our planet from space.
During the analyses, “liquid water was discovered inside a sample crystal. This water was carbonated, contained salts and organic matter, which was once present in the main body of Ryugu,” according to the report published by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the journal Science.
The report is published on the occasion of the first anniversary of the beginning of the study of the samples collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 in a pioneering mission, and its results would support the hypothesis that water and the organic matter reached the Earth through asteroids and other bodies, according to the team.
Appearance of life on Earth
There are several theories about the appearance of life on Earth. Some point out that it arose little by little from inorganic molecules that gave way to organic compounds such as amino acids, while others hypothesize that organic compounds could have arrived in meteorites.
The research teams, led by Professor Nakamura Tomoki of Tohoku University, have already revealed the discovery of amino acids in the Ryugu samples, considered one of the pillars of life. The drop of water, in particular, was found inside an iron sulfide crystal that also contained carbon dioxide (CO2).
Had abundant water
Crystals similar in shape to coral reefs were also seen on the surface of the samples, which are believed to have grown in liquid water within Ryugu’s original body, which would once have had abundant water.
The research teams, divided into six groups and two conservation institutes around the world, also carried out analyzes of the hardness, thermal conductivity and magnetism of the 17 particles brought from Ryugu, and through whose results they simulated their formation. 4.6 billion years ago.
Hayabusa2, launched in 2014, made contact with the surface of Ryugu twice in 2019 to collect the samples in a complex and historic operation and, after a journey of six years and 5.2 billion kilometers, dropped them in a container over Australia on December 6, 2020.