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Asteroid samples offer chance to study chemically pristine solar system materials

Asteroïde-monsters bieden de kans om chemisch ongerepte materialen van het zonnestelsel te bestuderenScience (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abn7850″ width=”800″ height=”530″/>

Petrography of the Ryugu sample. (A) Backscattered electron (BSE) image from Ryugu sample A0058-C1001. The black space in the figure is a pore. (B) Combined elemental map of the same sample, showing characteristic X-rays of Ca Kα, Fe Kα and S Kα lines mapped to RGB color channels as indicated in the legend. Carbonate (dolomite), sulfide (pyrrhotite) and iron oxide (magnetite) minerals are embedded in a matrix of phyllosilicates, and in some cases precipitated in small veins. The sulfide texture is similar to that in the ungrouped chondrite Flensburg. (C) Ternary diagram between Fe, Mg and Si+Al showing the bulk chemical compositions of phyllosilicates in A0058-C1001. Black lines are compositions of solid solution for serpentine and saponite. Each open red circle shows the bulk chemical composition of phyllosilicates measured at different locations of panels A and B, each location being 5-10 m square. We chose each size to exclude minerals other than phyllosilicates in the area. The bulk compositions differ from site to site, with a distribution indicating that the phyllosilicates consist of serpentine and saponite with variable Fe/Mg ratios. Uncertainties on any measurement are smaller than the symbol size. (D) BSE image of Ryugu sample C0002-C1001, with brecciated matrix. The texture is similar to CI chondrites. Credit: Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abn7850

Hayabusa2 is an asteroid return mission operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which has been exploring the asteroid Ryugu. Carbonaceous asteroids like Ryugu are important because they are thought to preserve the most pristine, untouched materials in the solar system: a mixture of minerals, ice and organic compounds. The Haybusa2 mission is the first to collect samples from a carbonaceous asteroid and return them to Earth for analysis.

An international team of scientists led by Hisayoshi Yurimoto of Hokkaido University and including Sachiko Amari, research professor of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, measured the mineralogy, bulk chemicals and isotopic compositions of the Ryugu samples. The results were reported on June 9 in the journal Science

The researchers described similarities between the samples returned from Ryugu and the type of meteorite known as CI chondrites, believed to be the most primitive carbonaceous meteorites recovered on Earth. Their analysis indicates that CI chondrites on Earth have changed and that the new Ryugu samples are more pristine than any CI chondrites because the former contain no terrestrial contamination or alteration. This finding implies that the Ryugu samples may still contain information previously unavailable to better understand the early solar system.

Asteroid samples offer the chance to study chemically pristine materials of the solar system

The surface of asteroid Ryugu from a height of 6 km. Credits: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST


Two teams report on research on Hayabusa2 asteroid samples


More information:
Tetsuya Yokoyama et al, Samples returned from the asteroid Ryugu are similar to Ivuna-type carbonaceous meteorites, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abn7850

Read more about the Hayabusa2 on the JAXA website

Provided by Washington University in St. Louis


Quote: Asteroid samples offer opportunity to study chemically pristine materials of the solar system (2022, June 9,), retrieved June 9, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-asteroid-samples-chance-chemically -pristine.html

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