Hayabusa-2 was launched in 2014 on its mission to Ryugu, and returned to Earth’s orbit two years ago to drop off a capsule containing the sample. The precious cargo has already yielded several insights, including organic material that showed some of the building blocks of life on Earth, amino acids, may have been formed in space. The team’s latest discovery was a drop of fluid in the Ryugu sample “which was carbonated water containing salt and organic matter,” Nakamura said. That bolsters the theory that asteroids such as Ryugu, or its larger parent asteroid, could have “provided water, which contains salt and organic matter” in collisions with Earth, he said. “We have discovered evidence that this may have been directly linked to, for example, the origin of the oceans or organic matter on Earth.” “The fact that water was discovered in the sample itself is surprising,” given its fragility and the chances of it being destroyed in outer space, said Kensei Kobayashi, an astrobiology expert and professor emeritus at Yokohama National University. “It does suggest that the asteroid contained water, in the form of fluid and not just ice, and organic matter may have been generated in that water.”
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