Japanese scientists have detected evidence of water in 17 asteroids for the first time using data from the infrared satellite AKARI. This discovery will contribute to the understanding of the distribution of water in the solar system, the evolution of asteroids, and the origin of water on Earth.
Researchers from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and University of Tokyo found that water is retained in asteroids as hydrated minerals, which were produced by chemical reactions of water and anhydrous rocks that occurred inside the asteroids.
Our Earth is an aqua-planet and is the only planet in our solar system where the presence of water on the planet surface has been confirmed. However, scientists are not yet sure how our Earth acquired water.
Recent studies have shown that other celestial bodies in our solar system have, or used to have, water in some form. Asteroids are considered to be one of the candidates that brought water to Earth. Hydrated minerals are stable even above the sublimation temperature of water ice.
The Japanese infrared satellite AKARI, which was launched in February 2006 and ended operations in 2011, was equipped with the Infrared Camera (IRC) that allowed us to obtain spectra at near-infrared wavelengths from two to five micrometers.