Scientists have found evidence of an asteroid carrying water and organic molecules for the second time this year, bolstering the theory that the building blocks of life on Earth came from an asteroid, according to the authors of a new study.
Researchers from the University of Central Florida who announced in April the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid have discovered the same material on the new asteroid, 65 Cybele.
“This discovery suggests that this region of our solar system contains more water ice than anticipated,” said University of Central Florida Professor Humberto Campins. “And it supports the theory that asteroids may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water and the building blocks for life to form and evolve here.”
Both are located in the same region of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Cybele has a diameter of 290 km (180 miles), compared with the asteroid 24 Themis – the subject of the teams’ first paper - which has a diameter of 200 km (124 miles).
Using infrared spectral imaging, Campins said researchers found enough structural evidence to identify water ice and organic material on the asteroid, which was found closer to Jupiter than Mars.
Campins will present the findings Friday at the 42nd-annual Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in Pasadena, California.