NASA finds rare asteroid! Key to origin of water on Earth? | Tech News

NASA finds rare asteroid! Key to origin of water on Earth?

A team of scientists has discovered a new group of water-rich asteroids that may have come from the outer edges of the solar system to the asteroid belt.

| Updated on: Feb 27 2023, 10:20 IST
Impending danger! NASA reveals 5 asteroids heading for Earth
water asteroid
1/6 Asteroid 2023 DK – NASA has red-flagged an asteroid named Asteroid 2023 DK due to its extremely close approach to the planet. The 29 feet wide asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow, February 25, at a distance of 2.5 million kilometers and is already on its way travelling at a speed of nearly 14540 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
water asteroid
2/6 Asteroid 2023 CG1 - An asteroid called Asteroid 2023 CG1 is currently heading towards Earth and is anticipated to pass closely by the planet tomorrow, February 25. NASA has approximated the asteroid to be 99 feet wide. The asteroid is already hurtling towards Earth at a rapid speed of 23331 kilometers per hour. The asteroid's closest approach to Earth will occur at a distance of 5.8 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
water asteroid
3/6 Asteroid 2023 DA – NASA has alerted that a 57 feet wide asteroid will make its approach to Earth on February 26, at a distance of just 1 million kilometers. The asteroid, known as Asteroid 2023 DA, is already rushing towards Earth, travelling at a speed of 21146 kilometers per hour.  (Wikimedia Commons)
water asteroid
4/6 Asteroid 2023 CX2 – Another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 CX2 is heading for Earth and will make a close approach on February 27. This asteroid, with a width of 35 feet, is heading for Earth at a blistering speed of 8247 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at an extremely close distance of 2.9 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
water asteroid
5/6 Asteroid 2023 CC2 – The fifth asteroid, with a size ranging between 75 feet and 170 feet, is named Asteroid 2023 CC2 and will be making its closest Earth approach on February 27. It will come as close as 6.2 million kilometers, according to NASA. The asteroid is moving at a breakneck speed of 18232 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
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6/6 How are Asteroids named? According to ESA, the process of assigning a provisional designation to an asteroid begins when a single observer detects it on two consecutive nights and then sends their findings to the Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The IAU assigns a provisional designation, which typically consists of a serial number like "1992 KD". The provisional designation includes the year of the asteroid's discovery, followed by two letters that indicate the order of its discovery during that year. (NASA/JPL)
water asteroid
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These new asteroids might have transported water to the developing planets, particularly Earth, the study suggested. (NASA/JPL)

NASA and other space agencies keep a constant watch on all the near-Earth asteroids to know the potential threat to our planet. However, these asteroids are more than just hazardous space objects! Now, a team of astronomers have discovered a new category of asteroids that could provide insights into the composition of the early solar system. Even more intriguing is the fact that these rocky bodies, situated in the outer asteroid belt, are porous and rich in water, having undergone significant evolution from their original location.

NASA Astromaterials tweeted, "How can experts decipher the origin & evolution of large/dark asteroids considered rich in water & carbon, essential elements to life on Earth?” The study has been published in the Nature Astronomy paper by Takir et al. (2023), who provide insight using near-infrared observation and comparisons to Ceres, which is the sole dwarf planet in the inner solar system known for its abundance of water.

With the help of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, the space agency found evidence of asteroids in the main belt moving there from a cold region. According to the study, these large and dark asteroids, measuring over 100 kilometres in diameter, exhibit similar features just like the mineral composition of the icy dwarf planet Ceres. With an equatorial diameter of around 900 kilometres, Ceres holds the title of being the largest entity located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

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Scientists believe that these asteroids might have transported water to the developing planets, particularly Earth, during a time when the inner solar system and its constituents were generally dry. The recently discovered group of Ceres-like asteroids, abundant in water and carbon, contain the same crucial components required for life to exist on Earth.

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First Published Date: 26 Feb, 18:01 IST