To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Scientists discover water on the surface of two asteroids for the first time ever
Featured Image Credit: NASA/Carla Thomas/SwRI

Scientists discover water on the surface of two asteroids for the first time ever

Water potentially being on the asteroid has long been of interest to scientists

Scientists have made yet another huge breakthrough that could help us understand how our planet came to be as it is today.

The South West Research Institute (SwRI) have announced that through the help of Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), they've found water on two asteroids.

They were believed to be dry silicate asteroids but, for the first time ever, water molecules have been discovered on them.

Asteroids are described as 'leftovers from the planetary formation process', so their compositions can depend on where they formed in the solar nebula.

And the reason there was so much interest in finding if they had water on them or not is because it could 'shed light on how water was delivered to Earth'.

SwRI’s Dr. Anicia Arredondo, lead author of a Planetary Science Journal paper about the discovery, further explained in a press release: "We detected a feature that is unambiguously attributed to molecular water on the asteroids Iris and Massalia.

"We based our research on the success of the team that found molecular water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. We thought we could use SOFIA to find this spectral signature on other bodies."

Scientists used SOFIA to make the huge discovery.
NASA/Carla Thomas/SwRI

Previous studies have detected some form of hydrogen both on the moon and on asteroids, but researchers struggled to determine if it was water water or its close chemical relative, hydroxyl.

It's now believed that there is roughly the equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water trapped in a cubic meter of lunar surface soil.

This amount of water consistent with its abundance on the sunlit surface of the Moon, as per observations using SOFIA.

"Based on the band strength of the spectral features, the abundance of water on the asteroid is consistent with that of the sunlit Moon," Dr Arrendondo said.

"Similarly, on asteroids, water can also be bound to minerals as well as adsorbed to silicate and trapped or dissolved in silicate impact glass."

The findings could help researchers work out how water was delivered to Earth.

As well as helping scientists work out how water may have made its way to Earth, it's hoped that the new discovery could provide insight into the distribution of water in other solar systems and help researchers pin-point where to look for potential life in our solar system (and further afield).

Researchers are now looking to use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for its 'precise optics and superior signal-to-noise ratio' to analyse more asteroids.

Arredondo shared that they've already 'conducted initial measurements for another two asteroids' using the high tech telescope, and hope look at another 30 targets.

Topics: News, Science, Technology, Space