Asteroid Itokawa’s salt reveals Earth’s water source 2023

The Hayabusa mission found more salt than predicted in asteroid samples, indicating that water was more prevalent in the outer Solar System than previously thought. A high number of asteroids have more water than experts thought.

Astronomers found sodium chloride, or table salt, in Hayabusa samples from the asteroid Itokawa. The mineral only forms in water, making the results noteworthy. Itokawa is a water-bearing S-type asteroid.

Hayabusa spacecraft captures the peanut-shaped asteroid Itokawa.

The discovery suggests that water was significantly more widespread in the outer Solar System than previously thought and that many asteroids have more water than previously thought.

Nature Astronomy reported the findings. In the early Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn migrated inward from their outer reaches, disrupting the orbits of many comets and asteroids, causing some to crash into the inner worlds during the late heavy bombardment. The data support the idea that most of the world’s water was provided this way.

“The grains look exactly like what you would see if you took table salt at home and placed it under an electron microscope,” explains research senior author Tom Zega. Nice square crystals.

It was hilarious since we had many lively group meeting discussions about them because it seemed so unreal. Sodium chloride suggests this asteroid population may have more water than we thought.”

Scientists argue about how Earth received its water. During the late heavy bombardment, comets and asteroids brought water and amino acids to Earth.

Another idea claims that Earth’s water came from the Sun’s leftover materials. Scientists predict volcanism can discharge enough water. More asteroids samples will settle the debate.

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