Asteroid samples provide the opportunity to study chemically intact solar system materials

Asteroid samples provide the opportunity to study chemically intact solar system materials

Asteroid samples offer chance to study chemically pristine solar system materials

Petrography of the Ryugu test. (A) Backscattered electron (BSE) image of Ryugu sample A0058-C1001. The black space in the figure is a pore. (B) Combined element map of the same sample, with characteristic X-rays of Ca Kα, Fe Kα and S Kα lines assigned to RGB color channels specified in the explanation. Carbonate (dolomite), sulphide (pyrrhotite) and iron oxide (magnetite) minerals are embedded in a matrix of phyllosilicates, and in some cases precipitated in small veins. The sulphide structure is similar to that in the ungrouped chondrite Flensburg. (C) Ternary diagram between Fe, Mg and Si + Al showing bulk chemical compositions of phyllosilicates in A0058-C1001. Black lines are solid solution compositions for serpentine and saponite. Each open red circle shows the bulk chemical composition of phyllosilicates measured at different locations in panels A and B, where each location is 5–10 μm 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 phyllosilicate consists of serpentine and saponite with varying Fe / Mg ratios. The uncertainties in each measurement are smaller than the symbol size. (D) BSE image of Ryugu sample C0002-C1001, showing breccia matrix. The consistency is similar to CI chondrites. Credit: Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abn7850

Hayabusa2 is an asteroid test return mission run by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which investigated the asteroid Ryugu. Carbonaceous asteroids like Ryugu are important because they are believed to preserve the most pristine, pristine 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, Professor of Physics in Art and Science at Washington University in St. Petersburg. Louis, measured the mineralogy, bulk chemical and isotopic compositions of the Ryugu samples. The results were reported 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, which are considered to be the most primitive carbonaceous meteorites recovered on Earth. Their analysis indicates that CI chondrites have changed on Earth and that the new Ryugu samples are more pristine than all CI chondrites because the former have no soil contamination or change. This finding suggests that the Ryugu samples may still contain information that was not previously available to better understand the early solar system.

Asteroid samples provide the opportunity to study chemically intact solar system materials

Asteroid Ryugu’s surface from an altitude of 6 km. Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST

Two teams report on studies of Hayabusa2 asteroid samples

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

Read more about Hayabusa2 at JAXA website.

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