Researchers discover how water is regenerated on asteroids

asteroid
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists have discovered how water molecules can be regenerated on asteroids moving through space, in an exciting breakthrough that could extend to other bodies such as the moon.

Published today in the journal Nature Astronomy, the new research shows water can be replenished on the surface of asteroids if both and impacting meteoroids come together at very low temperatures.

Lead Australian author Dr. Katarina Miljkovic, from Curtin University's Space Science and Technology Centre, said the research proved that two components of the space weathering—both electrons and thermal shock—were necessary to maintain supplies of water molecules on asteroids, rather than just one as previously thought.

"This complex process to regenerate surface could also be a possible mechanism to replenish on other airless bodies, such as the moon," Dr. Miljkovic said.

"This research finding has potentially significant implications because we all know the availability of water in the solar system is an extremely important element for habitability in space."

The NASA-funded project saw the team take a piece of Australia's own Murchison meteorite, which fell to earth in Victoria 50 years ago, and simulate the weather conditions of an asteroid belt inside a specially built a machine that mimics the conditions of an asteroid's surface.

The team then used energised electrons to simulate solar winds and lasers to mimic small meteoroids slamming into the asteroid, while monitoring water molecule levels at the surface.

Meteoroid impacts initiate the reaction, then solar winds blast the surface leaving unbonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms to bond, creating .

Dr. Miljkovic's role as an impact expert, based in Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, was to validate the use of laser ablation as a substitute for micrometeoroid bombardment.

The paper was co-authored by researchers from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and California State University San Marcos.


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More information: Cheng Zhu et al. Regenerative water sources on surfaces of airless bodies, Nature Astronomy (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0900-2
Journal information: Nature Astronomy

Provided by Curtin University
Citation: Researchers discover how water is regenerated on asteroids (2019, October 8) retrieved 20 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-10-regenerated-asteroids.html
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Oct 08, 2019
So, first pressure and heat, then sprinkle liberally with hydrogen and oxygen atoms? Easy as baking a cake!

Oct 08, 2019
Electrochemistry in plasma at work on airless bodies, see comets, moons (Io, Enceladus, etc...), and planets.

Oct 08, 2019
Electrochemistry in plasma at work on airless bodies, see comets, moons (Io, Enceladus, etc...), and planets.


Nope. Wrong D/H ratios, and far too much water to be explained by this mechanism. As previously pointed out. Repeatedly. When a comet is most active (i.e. producing the most water and other gases), the solar wind is getting nowhere near the surface. As predicted. As observed. In 1986 and 2015. Still beyond the comprehension of EU ists!

Oct 09, 2019
well, my reading of this article
leads me to the opinion
that it will need to be tested & evaluated in Space environment

first, to prove there is an actual natural phenomena occurring
that can be observed, close up

second, to prove that this is not just an unpredictable event
but a measurable phenomena
reoccurring often enough to be worth the expense of recovering the water

keep in mind, this source will be competing in the marketplace with other Space water sources

one small doubt
why wasn't this phenomena
been notice before?
collecting on the surface
of deep space probes?

Oct 09, 2019
one small doubt
why wasn't this phenomena
been notice before?
collecting on the surface
of deep space probes?

Some reading comprehension to do. "The team then used energised electrons to simulate solar winds and lasers to mimic small meteoroids slamming into the asteroid, while monitoring water molecule levels at the surface."

I think deep space probes aren't being hit by small meteoroids.

Oct 09, 2019
one small doubt
why wasn't this phenomena
been notice before?
collecting on the surface
of deep space probes?

Some reading comprehension to do. "The team then used energised electrons to simulate solar winds and lasers to mimic small meteoroids slamming into the asteroid, while monitoring water molecule levels at the surface."

I think deep space probes aren't being hit by small meteoroids.

Engineers do account for charge build up on space probes, however, probes often are forced into safe mode when the inevitable discharging occurs. Somehow the astrophysicists disregarded these factors when considering their hypotheses but all bodies experience these phenomena on some level. See Earth's lightning and Birkeland currents, Mars' dust devils, and cometary/asteroid cathode jets.

Oct 09, 2019
cortezz, your suggestion is probably correct

however i'd like to see some evidence on the subject
before i give up on my opinion

for instance, are we talking about meteorites?
or micro-meteorites?
fine dusts or powdered rock?
snow flakes or ice-sleet?

& why not erosion of the target surface?

just cause they got the effect they were seeking in laboratory experiments?

does not rule out that real world (real space?) experience could differ from lab work conclusions

& you still have to figure probable ROI
if this turns out unable to justify investment?
perhaps it will find a niche market as part of a survival kit?

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