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How did Ryugu lose its water?

Date: 07 January 2021 Tags: Space


Researchers have offered an explanation for why Ryugu is not as rich in water-bearing minerals as some other asteroids.



Researchers are using data from the Hayabusa spacecraft’s instruments to reveal new details about the asteroid’s past.



  • The Hayabusa2 mission represents the first time a sample from one of these asteroids has been directly collected and returned to Earth.

  • The study suggests that the ancient parent body from which Ryugu was formed had likely dried out in some kind of heating event before Ryugu came into being, which left Ryugu itself drier than expected.

  • Those meteorites have been studied in great detail in laboratories around the world for many decades, but it is not possible to determine with certainty which asteroid a given carbonaceous chondrite meteorite may come from.

  • Scientists think these asteroids likely form from debris left over when larger and more solid asteroids are broken apart by a large impact event. 

  • It could also be that Ryugu dried out after a catastrophic disruption and re-formation as a rubble pile. It may also be possible that Ryugu had a few close spins past the sun in its past, which could have heated it up and dried out its surface.


Significance of study

  • One of the reasons Ryugu was chosen as a destination is that it belongs to a class of asteroids that are dark in colour and suspected to have water-bearing minerals and organic compounds.

  • These types of asteroids are believed to be possible parent bodies for dark, water- and carbon-bearing meteorites found on Earth known as carbonaceous chondrites.


Ryugu asteroid

  • Ryugu is a near-Earth object and a potentially hazardous asteroid of the Apollo group. In June 2018, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 arrived at the asteroid. 

  • After making measurements and taking samples, Hayabusa-2 left Ryugu for Earth and returned the sample capsule to Earth.