Gases found in asteroid Ryugu samples: Japanese scientists

2022-10-22 Xinhua Editor:Li Yan

Gases were discovered in the sample collected by Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe from the asteroid Ryugu, Japanese scientists said.

It was the first successful return of gas species from a near-Earth asteroid, according to a research article published by Japanese scientists in the U.S. journal Science Advances.

The container gas consists of helium and neon along with some contaminant terrestrial atmospheric gases, said the article, suggesting that the sample comprises a mixture of solar and Earth's atmospheric gas.

Multiple research teams measured the isotopic composition of the noble gases and nitrogen in the surface and sub-surface material from the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, which was returned to Earth by Hayabusa2 on Dec. 6, 2020, said a joint statement issued by institutions including Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Kyushu University, and the University of Tokyo, on Friday.

In this research, noble gases and nitrogen in Ryugu were investigated as a probe for the origin and evolution of Ryugu from the beginning of the formation of the parent asteroid to the current surface geological processes, the statement noted.

The sample was found to contain primitive noble gas from the early Solar System in abundances greater than that found in any meteorite reported to date, and researchers believed that a variety of nitrogen-baring materials preserved within the Ryugu sample would offer clues for the study of the early Solar System.

The 600-kg Hayabusa2 was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan in December 2014 and traveled over 3.2 billion km on its journey. 

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