The analysis of samples from the asteroid Ryugu has revealed the constituents that the early solar system could have been made up of.
The solar system is essentially the reason why we exist today. So, it is not really surprising that humans have always been fascinated by the origin of the solar system. But despite a curiosity of hundreds of years, our knowledge around it is vastly limited. And that was part of the reason why the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Hayabusa2 spacecraft to bring samples from an ancient asteroid called Ryugu. The asteroid was thought to be a carbon-rich C-type asteroid and of the same age as the early solar system which made its analysis very important. The scientists working with the Japanese Space agency also developed a non-destructive analysis method that would give insight into what the asteroid was composed of. And the results are quite surprising. Read on to know about the truth of this space rock.
Non-destructive tech reveals the secret behind Ryugu
Since the sample collected by Hayabusa2 was not enough to conduct extended tests without running out of the sample itself, a need was felt to develop an analysis method that does not erode the rock. According to a report by SciTechDaily, a research team at Osaka were able to develop a non-destructive method of light element analysis which used muons (a subatomic particle, similar to electrons) to analyze asteroid Ryugu. Interestingly, this technology was developed before the spacecraft was sent to retrieve rock samples.
After the samples from the asteroid were recovered, a department called Stone Analysis Team was created which was led by Dr. Nakamura of Tohoku University. This team began analyzing the composition of the asteroid. The particular interest was in finding out the quantitative distribution of its light elements.
Asteroid Ryugu reveals the composition of early solar system
Consistent with its classification of a CI Chondrite, the analysis revealed that the composition of the asteroid contains extremely primordial material of the solar system. In simple terms, this means that the concentration of Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon in the asteroid is similar to what the leading theories around the early solar system suggests.
“Carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are the material substances of life. Therefore, our successful detection of these substances without destroying the Ryugu samples is a groundbreaking achievement,” professor K. Terada, part of the team, told SciTechDaily.
This analysis has not only revealed more about what the early days into the formation of the solar system could have looked like, but it has also offered a new way to figure out what an asteroid is made up of without using any destructive analysis methods.