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Asteroid Ice

Asteroid Ice

Astronomers have detected the spectrum signature of ice on an asteroid called 24 Themis in the main belt. They believe the thin coating of frost on the 200 kilometer wide rock is constantly being evaporated by the Sun and then replenished from an interior supply deep inside the rock.

Astronomers Find Water On Asteroid’s Surface – [scientificblogging.com]

Astronomers have found evidence of water ice and organic material on the asteroid 24 Themis. The findings, detailed in Nature, support the idea that asteroids could be responsible for bringing water and organic material to Earth, researchers say.

Using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, astronomers examined the surface of 24 Themis, a 200-kilometer wide asteroid that sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter. By measuring the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by the object, the researchers found the spectrum consistent with frozen water and determined that 24 Themis is coated with a thin film of ice. They also detected organic material.

Astronomers find loads of ice on big asteroid
– [chron.com]

Scientists have found lots of life-essential water — frozen as ice — in an unexpected place in our solar system: an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter.

The discovery of significant asteroid ice has several consequences. It could help explain where early Earth first got its water. It makes asteroids more attractive to explore, dovetailing with President Barack Obama’s announcement earlier this month that astronauts should visit an asteroid. And it even muddies the definition between comets and asteroids, potentially triggering a Pluto-like scientific spat over what to call these solar system bodies.

This asteroid has an extensive but thin frosty coating. It is likely replenished by an extensive reservoir of frozen water deep inside rock once thought to be dry and desolate, scientists report in two studies in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

Frosty Asteroid May Give Clues About Earth’s Oceans – [npr.org]

Out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, at least one giant space rock seems to be covered in a fine layer of frost.

The finding, by two separate teams using an infrared telescope in Hawaii, marks the first time that frozen water has been found on an asteroid. Scientists believe that early in Earth’s history, impacts from water-bearing asteroids and comets may have created our planet’s oceans.

But until now, no one has actually detected water ice on an asteroid. “This is probably the most convincing case to date,” says Henry Hsieh, an expert on comets and asteroids at Queen’s University in Belfast, who wrote a commentary on two reports in the journal Nature that describe the new discovery.

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