A new study conducted by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reveals that one asteroid that shares similarities to Bennu contains minerals tied to the solar system.
According to reports, Japan's Hayabusa2 mission just returned the first subsurface sample of an asteroid on Earth. A year later, scientists discovered that the sample, also known as Ryugu, remnants from the solar system's formation.
Ryugu is described as a dark, diamond-shaped asteroid that measures 3,000 feet. In 2019, Hayabusa2 collected a sample from the asteroid's surface before firing a copper bullet into the asteroid to create a crater. Four months later, a sample was collected.
A new study published this week revealed that the asteroid is much darker than what scientists initially predicted. When they opened the sample, the scientists were also surprised to see 5.4 grams of collected components from the asteroid.
What makes Ryugu special
According to the Jerusalem Post, Ryugu is no ordinary asteroid because it seems to be the parent body of CI chondrite meteorites, a rare kind that almost never survived a trip through the Earth's atmosphere.
C-type asteroids are also carbonaceous, and they contain primordial materials from the nebula that gave birth to the solar system. But the Ryugu asteroid is so much more than that.
Meanwhile, a second study determined that Ryugu comprises clay and other hydrated minerals and a small number of carbonates and organics.
"Some of these material properties are close to those of the carbonaceous chondrites that we have in our collections, while some were clearly distinct, which is quite exciting," Cédric Pilorget, lead author of the second study and associate professor at the Université Paris-Saclay's Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in France, said via CNN.
Pilorget added that the components found in Ryugu are more than enough for scientists to consider revisiting the paradigms of the solar system.
Results of the study are dubbed as historic
Patrick Michael, the director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, called the results historic. After all, they gave the very first results of the preliminary analysis of samples from a carbonaceous asteroid.
Phil Bland, a planetary scientist at Curtin University, was amazed at the study's findings even though he wasn't directly involved in it. He said that CI chondrites found in Ryugu are rare and special because their chemical composition is similar to the sun.
Bland added that only the CI chondrite would be left if all the gas was taken away from the sun. This proves that the latter is very important to scientists because they provide a snapshot of how the Solar System was formed, according to Abc.net.au.
Follow-up studies will be done to provide more information regarding Ryugu and the solar system. And a more detailed analysis of the components found in the asteroid is also crucial. But for now, the scientists involved in the study and even those who didn't participate in it are enjoying their new discovery.