Specks of dust collected by a Japanese space probe on an asteroid 300 million kilometres from Earth have revealed a surprising component: a drop of water, according to scientists. The discovery provides new support for the theory that life on Earth was seeded from outer space.
The findings are in the most recent research to be published from the analysis of 5.4 grams of rocks and dust collected by the Hayabusa-2 probe from the asteroid Ryugu.
"This drop of water has a good meaning," researcher Tomoki Nakamura of Tohoku University told reporters ahead of the research''s publication in the journal Science on Friday.
"Many scientists believe water was obtained from outside space, but we actually discovered water in Ryugu, an asteroid near Earth, for the first time."
F, and returned to Earth two years ago to remove a capsule containing the sample.
The precious cargo has already provided several insights, including organic material that demonstrated that some of the Earth''s major components, including amino acids, may have been formed in space.
- Asteroid Ryugu Sample Has Dust Grains Older Than Our Solar System
According to the findings published Friday, the team found a drop of fluid in the Ryugu sample "which was carbonated water containing salt and organic matter." Nakamura said the company.
In comparison to the Ryugu, or its larger parent asteroid, it might have "provided water, which contains salt and organic matter" in collisions with Earth, according to Nakamura.
"We have discovered evidence that this (process) may have been directly related to, for example, the origin of the oceans or organic matter on Earth."
Nakamura''s team, which includes 150 researchers - 30 from the United States, England, France, Italy, and China - is one of the world''s largest teams conducting a research on Ryugu''s sample.
The sample has been divided into a range of scientific teams in order to increase the possibility of new discoveries.
Kensei Kobayashi, an astrobiology expert and professor emeritus at the Yokohama National University who isn''t part of the research group, spoke out.
Given its flaws and the possibility that it might be destroyed in outer space, he told AFP.
"It does suggest that the asteroid contained water - in the form of fluid and not just ice - and organic matter may have been accumulated in that water."