UCF: Asteroid ice may be 'living fossil' of ocean

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UCF: Asteroid ice may be 'living fossil' of ocean

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:41 pm

Asteroid ice may be 'living fossil' with clues to oceans' origins
University of Central Florida via EurekAlert ! - 28 April 2010
An asteroid may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water.

The first-ever discovery of ice and organic molecules on an asteroid may hold clues to the origins of Earth's oceans and life 4 billion years ago.

University of Central Florida researchers detected a thin layer of water ice and organic molecules on the surface of 24 Themis, the largest in a family of asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.

Their unexpected findings will be published Thursday, April 29 in Nature, which will feature two complementary articles by the UCF-led team and by another team of planetary scientists.
Scientists finds evidence of water ice on asteroid's surface
University of Tennessee at Knoxville via EurekAlert ! - 28 April 2010
Asteroids, once thought as dry and lifeless, may be home to water and organic materials, also known as the building blocks of life.

Asteroids may not be the dark, dry, lifeless chunks of rock scientists have long thought.

Josh Emery, research assistant professor with the earth and planetary sciences department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has found evidence of water ice and organic material on the asteroid 24 Themis. This evidence supports the idea that asteroids could be responsible for bringing water and organic material to Earth.

The findings are detailed in the April 29 issue of the journal Nature.
Image
This image shows the Themis Main Belt which sits between Mars and Jupiter.
Asteroid 24 Themis, one of the largest Main Belt asteroids, was examined by
University of Tennessee scientist, Josh Emery, who found water ice and organic
material on the asteroid's surface. His findings were published in the April 2010
issue of Nature. (Josh Emery/University of Tennessee, Knoxville)


Scientists Say Ice Lurks In Asteroid's Cold Heart
NASA JPL 210-142 - 28 April 2010
Scientists using a NASA funded telescope have detected water-ice and carbon-based organic compounds on the surface of an asteroid. The cold hard facts of the discovery of the frosty mixture on one of the asteroid belt's largest occupants, suggests that some asteroids, along with their celestial brethren, comets, were the water carriers for a primordial Earth. The research is published in today's issue of the journal Nature.
Asteroid ice hints at rocky start to life on Earth
Nature News - 28 April 2010
Cool discovery suggests asteroids brought water and organic material.

A slushy cocktail of water-ice and organic materials has been directly detected on the surface of an asteroid for the first time. The finding strengthens the theory that asteroids delivered the ingredients for Earth's oceans and life, and could make astronomers rethink conventional models for how the Solar System evolved.

It has long been thought that asteroids, which lie in a belt between Mars and Jupiter, are rocky bodies that sit too close to the Sun to retain ice. By contrast, comets, which form further out beyond Neptune, are ice-rich bodies that develop distinctive tails of vaporized gas and dust when they approach the Sun. However, this distinction was blurred in 2006 by the discovery of small objects with comet-like tails in the asteroid belt ...
Ice on asteroid 24 Themis
Nature 464, Editor's Summary (29 April 2010)
Two groups, both using the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii but independently, have obtained infrared spectra of the main-belt asteroid 24 Themis consistent with the widespread presence of a frosty coating containing water ice and organics. Although the presence of water on the surface of some asteroids had been inferred from the comet-like activity of several small asteroids, these are the first actual measurements of water and organics in the asteroid belt. The presence of surface ice is particularly surprising because of the relatively short lifetime that exposed ice has at this distance from the Sun — between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Asteroids: A frosty finding
The asteroid belt is classically considered the domain of rocky bodies, being too close to the Sun for ice to survive. Or so we thought — not only is ice present, but at least one asteroid is covered in it.

From high atop the summit of Mauna Kea, where, fittingly, snow often falls in the otherwise tropical Hawaiian islands, two teams, Rivkin and Emery2 and Campins et al.1, have found evidence of ice in a similarly unexpected place: the main asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
1Water ice and organics on the surface of the asteroid 24 Themis 2Detection of ice and organics on an asteroidal surface

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ScienceNews: Frozen asteroid

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:59 pm

Frozen asteroid
Science News: 28 April 2010
Ice has been detected on one of the largest-known asteroids in the solar system, a finding now detailed in published reports.

Science News first reported that frozen water resides on the surface of 24 Themis, an asteroid orbiting in the middle of the asteroid belt, last October when the work was presented at a conference. Now the two teams cited in the original article — Humberto Campins of the University of Central Florida in Orlando and his collaborators, and Andrew Rivkin of Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and Joshua Emery of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville — have both published their findings in the April 29 Nature.
Ice confirmed on an asteroid
Science News: 7 Nov 2009
Frozen water leaves its signature over the entire surface of the asteroid 24 Themis.

Space rocks may be dead as doornails but some contain ingredients that could have given life on Earth a foothold.

Planetary scientists reported October 7 that they have, for the first time, confirmed that an asteroid contains frozen water on its surface. Evidence of water-ice, along with organic compounds, on the surface of the asteroid 24 Themis supports the theory that asteroids brought both water and organic compounds to the early Earth, helping lay the foundation for life on the planet.

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Space: Water Ice Discovered on Asteroid for First Time

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:05 pm

Water Ice Discovered on Asteroid for First Time
Space.com - 28 April 2010
Water ice has been found on the surface of a nearby asteroid for the first time – a discovery that could help explain how Earth got its oceans, scientists announced Wednesday.

Two teams of researchers independently verified that the asteroid 24 Themis – a large rock hurtling through space in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – is coated in a layer of frost.

They also found that the asteroid contains organic material, including some molecules that might be ingredients for life. But scientists have not found any evidence for life itself on this asteroid, or anywhere else in the universe beyond Earth.

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UT: Possible Destination? Researchers Find Water Ice & Organ

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:08 pm

Possible Destination? Researchers Find Water Ice and Organics on Asteroid
Universe Today - 28 April 2010
We usually think of asteroids as dark, dry, lifeless chunks of rock, just like the image of Asteroid Itokawa, above. But some asteroids may be more like "minor planets" after all. Researchers have found evidence on one asteroid – 24 Themis – of water ice and organic materials. This discovery is exciting on two fronts: one, this evidence supports the idea that asteroids could be responsible for bringing water and organic material to Earth, and two, if the proposed path for NASA is to visit an asteroid, having water and organics at the destination makes things a bit more interesting.

24 Themis, a 200-kilometer wide asteroid sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter. Using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Hawaii's Mauna Kea, Josh Emery from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Andrew Rivkin of Johns Hopkins University measured the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by the asteroid and found the spectrum consistent with frozen water. They determined that 24 Themis is coated with a thin film of ice. They also detected organic material.
...
In choosing a possible destination for future explorations, 24 Themis would perhaps be a good candidate.

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SciAm: Damp Rocks from Space

Post by bystander » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:49 am

Damp Rocks from Space
Scientific American Magazine | July 2010
Icy discovery bolsters view that asteroids delivered water to Earth.

An asteroid circling the sun between Mars and Jupiter harbors water ice and organic compounds on its surface—the first time such components have been discovered on asteroids. Those traits had been associated with comets, which spring from colder, more distant reservoirs in the solar system. The finding supports the notion that asteroids could have provided early Earth with water for its oceans as well as some of the prebiotic compounds that allowed life to develop.

Two teams reported complementary observations of the 200-kilometer-wide asteroid, known as 24 Themis, in the April 29 Nature ... Both groups saw infrared absorption features indicating a thin coating of frost, along with unidentified organic compounds. “They have found something that a lot of people, including myself, have been chasing in the solar system for a long time,” says Dale Cruikshank, a planetary scientist at the nasa Ames Research Center.

The asteroid is intriguing in part because it occupies a similar orbit to so-called main-belt comets—and likely stems from the same parent body. Main-belt comets reside in the asteroid belt but feature cometlike tails thought to arise from sublimating ice. These newly discovered main-belt comets, and now Themis, “are very interesting objects and potentially one of the sources of Earth’s oceans,” Cruikshank says.

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UCF: Water Discovered on Second Asteroid

Post by bystander » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:27 pm

Water Discovered on 2nd Asteroid, May Be Even More Common
University of Central Florida | 07 Oct 2010
Image
Credit: Gabriel Pérez, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias
Water ice on asteroids may be more common than expected, according to a new study that will be presented today at the world’s largest gathering of planetary scientists.

Two teams of researchers who made national headlines in April for showing the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid have now discovered that asteroid 65 Cybele contains the same material.

“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.”

Campins will present the teams’ findings during the 42nd-annual Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in Pasadena, Calif., which concludes Friday, Oct. 8.

Asteroid 65 Cybele is somewhat larger than asteroid 24 Themis – the subject of the teams’ first paper. Cybele has a diameter of 290 km (180 miles). Themis has a diameter of 200 km (124 miles). Both are in the same region of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The academic article reporting this new finding has been accepted for publication in the European Journal “Astronomy and Astrophysics.”
Asteroid 65 Cybele: Detection Of Small Silicate Grains, Water-Ice And Organics - Z Landsman et al