Boulders on ‘potentially dangerous’ asteroid Ryugu are so porous they could contain remnants of the EARLY solar system, researchers say
- Researchers found boulders on asteroid Ryugu are ‘porous’
- It has boulders with “average porosity of over 70 percent, a level as high as early planetismals.”
- The boulders may contain remnants of the early solar system
- Experts used the spacecraft’s infrared thermal camera to look at two areas on Ryugu’s surface
- The first area had boulders that were between 72 and 91 percent porous
- The second area was approximately 71 percent porous
- Ryugu is considered a ‘potentially dangerous’ object near Earth
- Hayabusa2 successfully returned samples of 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 findings, published in Natural Astronomy, reveal that the 2,790-foot-wide Ryugu has boulders with “average porosity of over 70 percent, a level as high as early planetisms.”
Planetisms are ancient celestial bodies, some as old as 4.6 billion years ago, that are made of dust, rock and other materials that make up the “building blocks of planets,” NASA notes.
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As such, the boulders could potentially contain leftover portions of the early solar system, the researchers theorize.
“We propose that these boulders are the least processed material on Ryugu and are remnants of porous planetesimals that have not undergone a high degree of heating and compaction,” researchers wrote in the study. “Our multi-instrumental analysis suggests that fragments of the highly porous boulders are globally mixed in the surface regolith, implying that they can be captured in collected samples by touch-down operations.”
To come up with their findings, the team used Hayabusa2’s thermal infrared camera to look at the asteroid’s surface and found two areas, including one near the center of a crater, full of porous boulders.
The first area had boulders that were between 72 and 91 percent porous, according to according space.com.
While they couldn’t confirm that the second area had boulders, they used the thermal infrared camera to suggest the area was about 71 percent porous, the news channel added.
Previous research suggested the boulders were between 30 and 50 percent porous, higher than meteorites but lower than comets.
The 2,790-foot-wide Ryugu has boulders with “average porosity of over 70 percent, a level as high as early planetisms.”
The boulders may contain remnant parts of the early solar system, according to a new study
The researchers used Hayabusa2’s thermal infrared camera to look at the asteroid’s surface and found two areas, including one near the center of a crater, that are full of porous boulders.
Ryugu is considered a “potentially dangerous” object near Earth as it is about 0.6 miles long and about 190 million miles from Earth.
Researchers will need to examine the boulders in more detail to get a sense of whether they are some of 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 departing for Earth in November 2019
Although it is more than 190 million miles from Earth, Ryugu is considered a ‘potentially dangerous’ object near Earth
However, analyzing the sample Hayabusa2 brought to Earth last year may 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 of the asteroid, before departing for Earth in November 2019.
It successfully returned the monsters on December 5, 2020 and is now on an 11-year journey to another asteroid – ‘1998KY26’ – with the aim of studying possible defenses against space rocks that we might someday encounter while flying towards Earth. .
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 was launched in December 2014 and arrived at the dice-shaped space rock on June 27, 2018.
Hayabusa Two studies soil and rock samples using various devices.
Hayabusa Two (artist’s impression) features a number of experiments, including four surface raiders and an explosive designed to gouge out ‘fresh’ rock samples
The probe is loaded with four surface landers, an array of cameras and even an explosive device that will unearth underground rock samples.
Ryugu, a Type C asteroid, contains traces of water and organic matter, and we hope analyzing this material will reveal what early conditions were like when the solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
Hayabusa Two is expected to return to Earth in late 2020 with samples for further analysis.