NASA's first asteroid samples came from 'ancient ocean world'
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Researchers at the University of Arizona believe that the asteroid sample brought back to Earth, named Bennu, may have come from an ancient oceanic world billions of years ago. The team found that some of the dark rocks on Bennu are coated in a thin crust of brighter material similar to the crust found on Saturn's moon Enceladus, which is known to have had a global ocean of liquid salty water. It is suggested that the water-rich planet may have provided suitable conditions for the origins of life.
'My working hypothesis is that this was an ancient ocean world,' Dante Lauretta at the University of Arizona and the mission's principal investigator told NewScientist.
The analysis of the material from Bennu showed that much of the rock is made of clay, including minerals called serpentites, which form on Earth when rock is exposed to water. Additionally, a rare calcium and magnesium-rich phosphate mineral was found on Bennu, similar to what has been observed on Enceladus. While the researchers are not claiming that life existed on the ancient oceanic world, they believe that studying these samples will provide clues about the origins of life.
Lauretta has not yet published his hypothesis or findings but said his analysis of the material over the last few months showed that much of the rock is made of clay, including minerals called serpentites.
Read at Mail Online
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