Space scientists have made a new discovery about asteroids which may lead to the survival of humans in space. The researchers have found out how water gets regenerated on asteroids. They have found out that water molecules can get regenerated on asteroids moving through space. This breakthrough can extend to other celestial objects such as the Moon, Space Daily has reported.
According to the findings of the research titled “Regenerative water sources on surfaces of airless bodies” which got published in the journal Nature Astronomy, water can be replenished on asteroids’ surface if both the solar wind and the impacting meteoroids come together in very low temperatures.
According to the lead Australian author Dr. Katarina Miljkovic from Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Centre, this research has proven that two components of the space weathering – both electrons and thermal shock – were necessary to maintain supplies of water molecules on asteroids, instead of just one as earlier thought, the report said.
“This complex process to regenerate surface water molecules could also be a possible mechanism to replenish water supplies on other airless bodies, such as the Moon,” Dr. Miljkovic said in a statement adding that “This research finding has potentially significant implications because we all know the availability of water in the solar system is an extremely important element for habitability in space.”
The NASA-funded project witnessed the team take a piece of Australia’s own Murchison meteorite that had fallen to Earth in Victoria around 50 years ago and simulate the weather conditions of an asteroid belt inside a machine specially built to mimic the conditions of the surface of an asteroid.
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Then, the team used energised electrons for simulating the solar winds and lasers to mimic small meteoroids slamming into the asteroid while monitoring the levels of water molecules at the surface.
The meteoroid impacts initiated the reaction and then solar winds blast the surface and leave unbonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms to bond together to create water.
The role of Dr. Miljkovic as an impact expert in Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences was to validate the users of laser ablation as a substitute for micrometeoroid bombardment.