PARIS – Scientists have made an incredible discovery on an asteroid that may prove a highly debated theory!
An asteroid has provided evidence of water ice, as well as organic compounds which bolster a leading theory for the origins of life on Earth. Scientists made their findings by studying 24 Themis, an asteroid about 479 million kilometers from the sun, which is one of the largest asteroids in the solar system.
“Up until now there was no sign that asteroids had any abundant organics or ice on them,” said Joshua Emery, an astronomer at the University of Tennessee and one of the authors of the studies. His discovery, along with other scientists, may provide the evidence for the possibility that the essential building blocks for life came from asteroids.
Asteroids have mostly been known to be devoid of water due to their proximity to the sun, with comets being the ones to contain water because they form farther out in space.
“We had previously thought that only the comets could have brought a lot of water to Earth,” said Andrew Rivkin, researcher at John Hopkins University and one of the lead authors of the studies. “But we now have more reasons to think that the asteroid impacts may also have brought a significant amount, especially if each one might have 20 to 30 percent water.”
Scientists now plan to scan the asteroid belt for more evidence of water and organic materials, hoping to determine if 24 Themis is just a comet that got stuck in the asteroid belt or an actual water-bearing asteroid.