There could be a lot more water out there than anyone thought. A second asteroid has been found to contain water ice. In April of this year, water ice and organics was found on 24 Themis, a 200-kilometer wide asteroid. Now, the two teams of researchers made who made the first discovery have now found the same materials on asteroid 65 Cybele.
“This discovery suggests that this region of our solar system contains more water ice than anticipated,” said University of Central Florida Professor Humberto Campins. “And it supports the theory that asteroids may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water and the building blocks for life to form and evolve here.”
Asteroid 65 Cybele is somewhat larger than asteroid 24 Themis, with a diameter of 290 km (180 miles). Both asteroids are located in the asteroid belt that sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter.
Generally, asteroids were thought to be very dry, but it now appears that when the asteroids and planets were first forming in the very early Solar System, ice extended far into the Main Belt region, which could mean water and organics may be more common near each star‘s habitable zone.
See our article from yesterday about molecules of life’s building blocks in Titan’s atmosphere and how it could add a third way for life to spring up on a planet (one being asteroid delivery, two being rising from the primordial soup thought to exist on early Earth).
The team’s paper will be published in the European Journal “Astronomy and Astrophysics,” and Campins presented his findings at the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences meeting this week.
Source: University of Central Florida