Boulders on the “potentially dangerous” asteroid Ryugu are so porous that they could contain remnants of the EARLY Solar System, researchers say
- Researchers found that boulders on the asteroid Ryugu are “porous”
- It has boulders with “an average porosity greater than 70 percent, a level as high as that of early planetisms”.
- The boulders could contain leftover parts of the early solar system
- Experts used the spacecraft’s thermal infrared camera to examine two areas on Ryugu’s surface
- The first area had boulders that were between 72 and 91 percent porous
- The second area was about 71 percent porous
- Ryugu is considered a “potentially dangerous” near-earth object
- Hayabusa2 successfully returned samples from Ryugu on December 5, 2020
Researchers have found that boulders on the massive asteroid Ryugu are “porous”, leading some to wonder if the discovery could help experts learn more about how planets are formed.
The results, published in Nature Astronomy, show that the 2,790 foot wide Ryugu boulder has an average porosity greater than 70 percent, a level as high as that of early planetisms.
Planetisms are ancient celestial bodies, some of which are up to 4.6 billion years old and made up of dust, rocks, and other materials that form the “building blocks of planets,” NASA notes.
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As such, the boulders could possibly contain remnants of the early solar system, the researchers theorized.
“We propose that these boulders are the least processed material on Ryugu and represent remains of porous planetesimals that have not undergone high levels of warming and compaction,” the researchers write in the study. “Our multi-instrument analysis suggests that fragments of the highly porous boulders are intermingled in the surface regolith around the world, suggesting that they could be trapped in collected samples through touchdown operations.”
To get their results, the team used Hayabusa’s thermal imaging camera2 to examine the asteroid’s surface and find two areas, including one near the center of a crater that is full of porous boulders.
The first area had boulders that were between 72 and 91 percent porous, according to Space.com.
Although they were unable to confirm the second area with boulders, they used the thermal imaging camera to point out that the area was about 71 percent porous, the news agency added.
Previous research suggested the boulders were between 30 and 50 percent porous, taller than meteorites but lower than comets.
The 2,790 foot wide Ryugu has boulders with an “average porosity greater than 70 percent, a level as high as that of early planetisms.”
According to a new study, the boulders could possibly contain remnants of the early solar system
Using the Hayabusa2 thermal imaging camera to examine the surface of the asteroid, the researchers found two areas, including one near the center of a crater, full of porous boulders
Ryugu is considered a “potentially dangerous” near-earth object because it is approximately 1 kilometer long and approximately 190 million kilometers from Earth.
Researchers need to examine the boulders more closely to get an idea of whether they are among the building blocks of planets in the early solar system.
Hayabusa2 first visited Ryugu in June 2018; from there it took measurements and samples of the asteroid before it left for Earth in November 2019
Despite being more than 190 million miles from Earth, Ryugu is considered a “potentially dangerous” near-Earth object
However, analyzing the sample that Hayabusa2 brought to Earth last year could prove difficult “because of its fragile properties,” the study’s lead author, Naoya Sakatani, a planetary scientist at Rikkyo University in Japan, told Space.com .
Hayabusa2 first visited Ryugu in June 2018; From there, it took measurements and samples the asteroid before it left for Earth in November 2019.
It successfully returned the samples on December 5, 2020 and is now on an 11-year journey to another asteroid – “1998KY26” – with the aim of investigating possible defense measures against space rocks that we will one day fly towards Earth might encounter.
STUDYING THE ASTEROID RYUGU HELPS SCIENTISTS UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Jaxa’s Hayabusa Two probe is on a mission to study the ancient asteroid Ryugu to help scientists better understand the origins of the solar system.
The probe launched in December 2014 and reached the cube-shaped space rock on June 27, 2018.
Hayabusa Two examines soil and rock samples with various devices.
Hayabusa Two (artist’s impression) conducts a series of experiments including four surface rovers and an explosive device designed to cut out “fresh” rock samples
The probe is loaded with four surface landers, a number of cameras, and even an explosive device that will dig up underground rock samples.
Ryugu, a Type C asteroid, contains traces of water and organic matter, and it is hoped that analysis of this material will reveal the early conditions when the solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
Hayabusa Two is expected to return to Earth with samples for further analysis in late 2020.