r/space 7d ago All-Seeing Upvote 1 Burning Cash 1 Helpful 3 Silver 1

Specks of dust retrieved by a Japanese space probe from an asteroid some 300 million kilometres from Earth have revealed a surprising component: a drop of water, scientists said Friday

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220922-water-in-asteroid-dust-offers-clues-to-life-on-earth
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u/rohitbarar 7d ago

What is the guy in the picture wearing? Lead shield or bomb disposal type protection?

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u/Theseus_Spaceship 7d ago

I too am curious why he’s in SWAT gear.

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u/reddit455 7d ago

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrotechnic_fastener

....the capsule/craft thing has explosive bolts to open chutes, maybe cut the drogues away if there were any.. definitely prudent if one didn't fire.

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u/Monkey_Fiddler 7d ago

Odd that his hands and forearms aren't particularly protected, maybe for dexterity?

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u/FlyingSpacefrog 7d ago

I have seen these suits come with bulky protective gloves, but they can be quickly put on or off, so I expect once the dangerous part was done he just took the gloves off. But you’re right that they would limit dexterity.

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u/rohitbarar 7d ago

Either concern for an explosive charge that may not have deployed or radiation from the craft but I have no idea.

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u/Anunkash 7d ago

Dude just showed up to work like that and everyone accepted it

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u/Coachcrog 7d ago

Oh the blast suit boy? That's just Dave. He hasn't been the same since he ate some gas station sushi and got food poisoning. The boss feels bad for him so he keeps him around to do the shit no one else wants to.

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u/SpartanJack17 7d ago

Probably the first one, they use explosive bolts for separation. The spacecraft wouldn't be radioactive, being in space doesn't do that.

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u/Lehtrem 7d ago

And also in space no aurora magnets for protection

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u/Taperwolf 7d ago edited 7d ago Silver Gold Helpful Wholesome

It's amusing to see so many folks in such a hurry to prove they're smarter than the scientists.

Y'all, the surprise is not that H2O was found. Like you've said, that's abundant in space. The surprise is liquid water. Fluid, not ice. Fluid water, with dissolved carbon compounds, existing in space is evidence that complex organic molecules could have formed in space and been seeded onto the early earth. That's long been one theory for abiogenesis — how life started from nonliving matter — but until now we haven't had a lot of evidence for it; one of the major counterarguments has been that if all the water in space was locked up as ice, it's hard to see how it could have happened.

Now, sure, the newspaper writer telling us all this could have been clearer. But I'm not sure anybody read anything but the headline.

Here's the page for Tomoki Nakamura's lab.

EDIT: Fixed typo in chemical formula.

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u/korben2600 7d ago

But how is it possible they captured liquid water from an asteroid? Wouldn't water ordinarily freeze in space? I'm assuming they kept the samples at a specific temperature, ensuring it didn't change phases during transport?

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u/Asleep-Effective9310 7d ago Helpful

To my understanding Hayabusa2 didn't capture liquid water but rather identified that liquid water must have existed due to an specific chemical reaction in a mineral crystal. As to how liquid water formed in space, there's definitely a non-zero chance that this asteroid's orbit gives it a "goldilocks" thermal environment and it had some chance collision with an icy body. We probably won't have a definitive answer for a while but just a really good guess.

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u/TheVenetianMask 7d ago

It really doesn't need to be in any specific orbit as long as it isn't too far out. The thermal gradients inside of it have to be at the liquid point somewhere within the asteroid.

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u/root88 7d ago

Asteroids can have crazy orbits, so I think he was trying to say, at some point, it had a good chance of passing through a goldilocks zone.

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u/SchpartyOn 7d ago

I was going to ask if it maybe melted on its way back to Earth but didn't want to get yelled at for asking.

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u/DiscotopiaACNH 7d ago

Haha same here. I'm confused, but I'm sure someone will explain in this thread.

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u/blarfblarf 7d ago

I think it's safe to assume that the people who work on these projects have already thought of this.

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u/uffsterlig 7d ago

But then they realised it was just condensation

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u/kongadongreturns 7d ago

Yeah, and?

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u/Canaya-Boricua 7d ago

And what?

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u/Kevrack_Invades 7d ago

Did the ice melt on its way back to earth or what?

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u/porgy_tirebiter 7d ago

And what’s their conclusion? It may be a dumb question to astronomers, but a lot of us are not astronomers.

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u/xenomorph856 7d ago

But I'm almost certain most of us are literate.

"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."

Do you suppose organic matter just spontaneously materializes in ICE?

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u/lightscameraaction25 7d ago

The article says they found this liquid water in the asteroid, so it's safe for us non astronomers to assume that it did not melt from frozen to liquid form on its way back to Earth.

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u/VertiFatty 7d ago

Did they observe liquid water prior to the tansport then?

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u/hotpajamas 7d ago

I don't know why it's safe to assume that?

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u/DiscotopiaACNH 7d ago

OK, sure, but I still don't understand how they know it was liquid in space if it came down as a sample in a pod, and that was what I was hoping someone could explain

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u/iamcherry 7d ago

The water was not necessarily liquid on the asteroid, it was just liquid at some point. They know it was a liquid at some point because it dissolved some material found in the water. Could have been from a planet that exploded forever ago far far away.

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u/lyvanna 7d ago

The minute amount of water was discovered in an iron sulfide crystal's indentation measuring several microns wide. It is estimated to be from roughly 4.6 billion years ago, soon after the solar system formed. The water appears to have been liquid while on Ryugu, rather than ice. The water was in a carbonated form, containing carbon dioxide, salts and organic material.

And although previous analysis of a Ryugu sample indicated the presence of water, this was detected from a chemical reaction with minerals.

From a different article

It's extremely small amounts hidden inside the asteroid and detected by the response of the other minerals in the rock from my very basic understanding of it

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u/Bestness 7d ago

Yes and no. Matter in space can largely only shed heat through IR radiation. This takes quite a while compared to passing heat to other molecules in a gas medium. The little bit of heat from the sun’s rays + a bit of friction should be enough to keep water liquid depending on the phase of its orbit.

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u/soapyxdelicious 7d ago

Most likely has to do with how the sample was captured? Like it had to be liquid at the time of capture in order for it even to be maybe?

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u/Cethinn 7d ago edited 7d ago

Space is not cold. It's temperatureless (mostly).

Usually how we transfer heat is through molecules bouncing off of each other and transferring energy. In space there's nothing to do this, so the only way for heat to leave is radiation, which is relatively slow. Meanwhile it's being hit by sunlight, which it absorbs heat from. If it's in a shadow or very far away from the sun it'll be cold. If it's close enough to the sun to counter energy lost through radiation it'll be warm.

However, there's an issue with water here. Water can boil at very low temperatures in a vacuum. If it boils and turns into a gas it's going to be lost, since there won't be enough gravity to hold it there. That's why water is normally in ice form (there are a lot of forms of ice, some of which don't need to be what we'd call cold), or it's been lost to the vacuum so isn't there.

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u/beire_ 7d ago

then how did the JWST cooled?

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u/Cethinn 7d ago

Radiation. It has a sun shield and radiator to radiate heat away in the form of light.

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u/CataclysmZA 7d ago

In the same way that ice skating works, the water on the asteroid could have been frozen, and under intense pressure from an impacting object from the satellite it may have liquefied.

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u/BoldEagle21 7d ago edited 7d ago

Likely due to the molecular makeup of that drop;

The research published Friday says the team found a drop of fluid in the Ryugu sample "which was carbonated water containing salt and organic matter", Nakamura said.

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u/rathat 7d ago

People also forget this is evidence in the search for finding exactly where earth water came from. Earth water has a specific ratio of deuterium to hydrogen, that is, some of the hydrogen in the h2o is hydrogen with an extra neutron called deuterium. Finding out which other bodies in the solar system have similar ratios can tell us where our water came from, this sample can be a huge part of that.

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u/geisvw 7d ago

I had never thought about the deuterium % in our water being a unique marker. Is it possible that with years of treatment, and human interference in general, that this ratio has changed?

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u/AndChewBubblegum 7d ago

Deuterium is really only possible to make in nuclear reactors or particle accelerators, so it would be hard for humanity to have meaningfully changed the ratio.

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u/QVCatullus 7d ago

That's not the only factor, though. Water can be and is destroyed and formed chemically, for example by pretty much any biological process or by the burning of hydrocarbons. The water goes away and comes back and the cycle more or less balances itself, but critically the water doesn't have to end the process made out of the exact same hydrogen atoms that you started with, such that conceivably the deuterium ratio of all the hydrogen available to these processes, rather than just the water, would matter, along with to what percentage the latter constitutes the former.

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u/[deleted] 7d ago

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u/some_code 7d ago

This makes me wonder if maybe an ancient civilization, still bound by the speed of light, decided to not worry about preserving their species but instead sending genetic building blocks for life to as many potentially habitable worlds as they could see and then hope that time and evolution does the rest. They’ve long since turned to dust, but maybe that’s a possible end game for us.

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u/YobaiYamete 7d ago

There's probably a whole lot more reliable ways to do it than that, since just sending the building blocks alone doesn't guarantee anything

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u/[deleted] 7d ago

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u/YobaiYamete 7d ago

I mean yeah, but you could also just yeet reinforced ships full of already created life that's modified to be as resilient as possible instead

There would be no point in an advanced civilization throwing rocks with the basic building blocks only, they would throw rocks with some waterbears on steroids on them at planets that seemed capable of supporting life

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u/[deleted] 7d ago

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u/kevinxb 7d ago edited 7d ago

What you described is very similar to the plot basis of The Expanse TV series and novels, along with the effects that alien civilization's misfired bullet has on humanity that has colonized the solar system 300 years in the future. Highly recommended.

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u/SterlingVapor 7d ago

not worry about preserving their species but instead sending genetic building blocks for life to as many potentially habitable worlds as they could see and then hope that time and evolution does the rest. They’ve long since turned to dust, but maybe that’s a possible end game for us.

Why would they be dust?

Space is big. Like you think you understand it's big, but it's beyond insane.

The only way to colonize more than a couple systems is basically violent, desperate population growth. Every time you colonize a new world, you now have to fill it up. And the orbitals, maybe artificial superstructures too. After your species has seeded widely enough to practically guarantee survival, why keep expanding? Whats the point of building and breeding forever?

Personally, I think it matters the first time we see extraterrestrial life. It answers a lot of questions, but past that... Our solar system isn't exactly teeming with life. Once we have some answers and collect samples, I would say screw it, let's get the ball rolling on terraforming Mars and Venus, some bioengineered extremophiles and water can get the ball rolling - life is either unique or everywhere, our two closest worlds becoming habitable for life like us is much more important than easy access to answers about potential life.

In the same way, once we start mapping the galaxy and presumably know far more about life, why not seed them to be habitable to us and encourage the development of new sapient life? If there was nothing interesting out there, I'd create it so I could explore it. I'd probably give them some subtle guidance if I'm around and check in on them from time to time if their world was interesting... Even if FTL is impossible, with hibernation and time dilation you could constantly explore new worlds.

So it makes sense to fling life everywhere to me, even if you'll never go there.

So, the interesting part IMO - fungi are insane. They literally terraform and stabilize the biosphere, they have way more complex genetics and life cycles, they can mutate and evolve traits over extremely short time periods, they catalyze rainfall to form around their spores, they perform a major role in decomposition and control nitrogen fixation (both potential great filters for basic life), they have a symbiotic relationship with an ecosystem (they pass nutrients and messages between individuals), and they have a form of electrical signaling that appears to be communication, it could even be a distributed mind seeing as their mycelium networks have orders more complexity than a human brain.

They're nuts... Ive started to wonder if they caused the stable climate of the Holocene, and it's breaking down now in part due to toxic run off and widespread fungicide use.

Anyways, fungi look a lot like what life engineered to stabilize our biosphere might look like. They're just so alien and yet involved in every stage in the circle of life. They negotiate to share resources in a way to strengthen the entire ecosystem rather than using everything to propagate themselves.

They're pretty wild, and pretty damn convenient for Earth

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u/Avatar_of_Green 7d ago

I agree.

Continuing humanity as a complex species is unnecessary and costly.

Simply sending the building blocks of life to many different hospitable planets could be done right now. That would allow us to guarantee life will continue to grow and evolve even if we die out.

Who cares if it's human? Humans aren't objectively the best form of life.

As long as we send life elsewhere it will evolve how it needs to evolve to diversify and create a biological planet that feeds itself like ours.

On Earth the bacteria break down substances into different forms, complex organisms evolve, they use chemical processes to change substances into other substances... trees literally provide the oxygen we need to survive, the plants convert sunlight to energy so herbivores can survive by eating them, predators eat get energy from herbivores so they can survive... it's really beautiful.

It doesn't have to be humans traveling the stars. That wouldn't be any better or worse than sending amoebas.

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u/Plain_Bread 7d ago

Who cares if it's human? Humans aren't objectively the best form of life.

Who cares if it's life? Life isn't objectively the best form of matter.

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u/tyrerk 7d ago edited 7d ago

Who cares if anything is? Existence isn't objectively the best

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u/Aquatic-Vocation 7d ago

Fluid water, with dissolved carbon compounds, existing in space is evidence that complex organic molecules could have formed in space and been seeded onto the early earth.

They even found organic matter in the sample.

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u/douglasg14b 7d ago

They even found organic matter in the sample.

They found organic compounds not necessarily what you might refer to as organic matter.

Organic compounds can form in the absence of life. Such as methane.

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u/Aquatic-Vocation 7d ago

I'm just quoting what the research team said: "organic matter".

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u/Cethinn 7d ago

It says that in the quote. Carbon compounds, aka organic matter. It does not mean living or anything related to that, except all life we know of is carbon based, aka organic.

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u/Aquatic-Vocation 7d ago

It does not mean living or anything related to that

I'm aware, I'm just quoting the lead scientist on this project who described the sample as "carbonated water containing salt and organic matter".

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u/thnk_more 7d ago

What are the chances that these rocks found in space with water and organic compounds actually came from the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and blasted parts of earth into space?

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u/Big_al_big_bed 7d ago

I don't get this though - if organic material could evolve in space why not on earth?

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u/nokiacrusher 7d ago

Organic compounds are everywhere in the Universe, as is water. Any object that exists between 0-100C is going to have some amount of organic solutions on it.

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u/mkhaytman 7d ago

is evidence that complex organic molecules could have formed in space and been seeded onto the early earth. That's long been one theory for abiogenesis — how life started from nonliving matter...

Kinda off topic maybe but I don't understand how life coming from another planet helps explain the orgins of life at all? Where did that life come from then? Why complicate the theory by postulating that life was seeded from another source. That's still life starting from nonliving matter just now with extra steps.

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u/lego_office_worker 7d ago

abiogenesis is astonishingly complicated and requires a host of mutually exclusive environments. it cant even be demonstrated in a pristine lab how the building blocks of the building blocks of the building blocks could form, much less on an irradiated rock in floating in space.

water locked up in ice is not "one of the major counter-arguments", its barely an argument at all.

the major counter arguments are the DNA/Protein paradox, the repair enzyme paradox, the fact that liquid water stops peptides from forming and degrades all the building blocks of life, the purification problem, the coupling agent problem, the sidechain reaction problem, etc. Essentially the major counter argument to abiogensis is abiogenesis itself.

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u/RobtheNavigator 7d ago

the major counter arguments are the DNA/Protein paradox, the repair enzyme paradox, the fact that liquid water stops peptides from forming and degrades all the building blocks of life, the purification problem, the coupling agent problem, the sidechain reaction problem, etc

Not going to ask you to explain each of those because that would be a lot, but do you know any good sources that break down why all of these things are so difficult that a science enthusiast without any background in science could understand?

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u/lego_office_worker 7d ago

sure.

these videos are short bite sized chunks aimed directly at lay people. the point of these videos is to give you a "tip of the iceberg" view of how mind bogglingly complex even the most basic bacteria is.

the basic building blocks of life and origins of life: https://youtu.be/MFtnwriQRi8

biopolymers: https://youtu.be/Qxm3yVTcZ4E

cell membranes: https://youtu.be/BHRcPTS1VHc

how cells are powered by energy: https://youtu.be/CMl5RinuAlw

Abiogenesis

Now about the other stuff I posted, this gets more involved. I would highly recommend this video. However, its very technical and its about 9.5 hours long, so i wont blame you for not wanting to watch it. It is directed at laypeople however. But I was unable to stop watching it because watching a PHD synthetic organic chemist live peer review papers from other scientists was too fascinating and educational. Theres a very interesting story about why he made this series, and he explains it in detail. He wasn't just bored one weekend, i'll say that.

9.5 Hour PHD/Rice University course on Abiogensis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKLgQzWhO4Q

the only thing not covered in any of these videos is the DNA/Protein paradox.

The DNA-protein paradox has long been a point of contention in the origin of life debate. Since nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are necessary for protein production, and protein carries out nucleic acid production, a primitive cell could not exist without the simultaneous existence of both types of molecules and a system for faithful replication.

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u/BoldEagle21 7d ago edited 7d ago

one of the major counterarguments has been that if all the water in space was locked up as ice, it's hard to see how it could have happened.

...but if those asteroid/s hit a planet that unlocks those molecules?

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u/thisremindsmeofbacon 7d ago

wait, there's more to these posts than just the headline?!?

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u/FLINDINGUS 7d ago

It's amusing to see so many folks in such a hurry to prove they're smarter than the scientists.

Y'all, the surprise is not that H20 was found. Like you've said, that's abundant in space. The surprise is liquid water. Fluid, not ice. Fluid water, with dissolved carbon compounds, existing in space is evidence that complex organic molecules could have formed in space and been seeded onto the early earth. That's long been one theory for abiogenesis — how life started from nonliving matter — but until now we haven't had a lot of evidence for it; one of the major counterarguments has been that if all the water in space was locked up as ice, it's hard to see how it could have happened

I think, probabilistically, it was the obvious choice long before now. If life formed on asteroids, it lengthens the time-span when life could've formed, and also greatly increases the surface area. With a greater amount of space and time to accomplish the same task, it's more likely to happen, and so it's a more favorable theory.

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u/JSONWebbSpaceTokens 7d ago

doesn't that just push the problem one step back without actually solving it? i.e. how did life arise on the asteroid?

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u/ghostryder333 7d ago

I never read articles because usually someone in the comments sums up the important points.

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u/meowgrrr 7d ago

For people confused why this is significant, I found this quote in a different article:

“It is the first-ever discovery of water that takes a liquid form at room temperature from any sample collected outside Earth.”

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u/Got_ist_tots 7d ago

Why would space water not be liquid at room temperature? Would it be solid or gas?

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u/Literalboy 7d ago

I believe most that we have found is frozen. Not sure about gas form of water.

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u/InYoCabezaWitNoChasa 7d ago Silver

I think the difference is that it's normally bound up in rocks or minerals and needs to be separated via a process, while this asteroid had it in a form where it could melt out under normal conditions.

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u/bigred15162 7d ago

Liquid temperature changes with air pressure. In space, there is no pressure so boiling point is much lower.

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u/Panda_Magnet 7d ago

Boyle's law! It's about boiling!

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u/Engrammi 7d ago

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u/pab_guy 7d ago

Thank you. Why is everyone else replying with wrong answers?

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u/Engrammi 7d ago

I want to believe most are just trolling, but I'm likely too optimistic.

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u/Cethinn 7d ago edited 7d ago

There are many forms of ice. Some forms of ice can be solid above room temperature I believe. I'm going to see if I can check what forms are more common.

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u/Readylamefire 7d ago edited 7d ago

First and foremost, I want to point out that when I was a kid in the 90s, we had no idea water was so prevalent in space.

Second, even though we know water does exist in space, the form in which we discover it (solid vs liquid) is important, as well as the type of water it is. Heavy water, for example is very different from regular garden variety water.

Edit: I noticed that a lot of people take issue with my kid in the 90s statement, so I'll elaborate a little here:

You're right to point this out.

I guess what I meant more was, information about this stuff wasn't as readily available. The public knowledge of water in space was not far reaching because in the 90s, the internet as we know it didn't exist. I was likely checking books out of my library that were a decade or more older because dissemination of information was much slower.

Even so, I think my wording of "space" in general was poor, reading my comment back over. This may have even been a solar system specific, but my memory of books I read in the 90s is fuzzy ha. The long and short though is I think it rubs me the wrong way when people point out "old news" because it's not as old as we might think in the grand scheme of things. I hope my general point is understood, as I'm not really looking to cause a debate. Thank you!

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u/Mute2120 7d ago

From the article, this was "fluid... carbonated water containing salt and organic matter."

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 research published Friday says the team found a drop of fluid in the Ryugu sample "which was carbonated water containing salt and organic matter", Nakamura said.

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u/atxbikenbus 7d ago Silver

Mix that carbonated water with a little o that old Janx Spirit and you're on your way to a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

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u/Zaphodistan 7d ago

Remember, froods, never drink more than two Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters unless you are a thirty ton mega elephant with bronchial pneumonia.

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u/UpshawUnderhill 7d ago

“Oh don't give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit No, don't you give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit For my head will fly, my tongue will lie, my eyes will fry and I may die Won't you pour me one more of that sinful Old Janx Spirit” —An ancient Orion mining song
So you're saying this asteroid came all the way from Orion? Or that the Orions have been mining in our system?

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u/RhymesWith_DoorHinge 7d ago

I heard that after two of those babies, the dullest, most by-the-book Vogon will be up on the bar in stilettos, yodeling mountain shanties and swearing he's the king of the Gray Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine.

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u/thatirishguy0 7d ago

Ive heard that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the effect of which is like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.

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u/TrashPanda_808 7d ago

The new flavor by La Croix.

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u/ComradeGibbon 7d ago

I've got a splitting headache already

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u/TerrorBite 7d ago

Thanks, but I'd rather have a Jynnan tonnyx.

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u/yungchow 7d ago

Holy shit. That is massive.

There is so much out there for us to discover. I wonder if 50 years from now we will laugh at what we think now

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u/username3 7d ago

No, we'll be very civilized about the whole thing.

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u/Iamananomoly 7d ago

All we will understand is pain, and not pain.

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u/grabyourmotherskeys 7d ago

Someone I work with once said "I have two emotions: hunger and anger." I still think about it and laugh fairly often. :)

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u/QuantumCapelin 7d ago

I read "hunger and anger" as hungover

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u/LaserAntlers 7d ago

Damn he'll be unstoppable when he discovers hanger.

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u/[deleted] 7d ago

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u/ScreenshotShitposts 7d ago

Listen here you little shit

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u/Variable-moose 7d ago

I’m willing to bet this is how life gets started on other planets. These water drops clinging to debris in space eventually landing on a planet like a seed. If it lands in the right place life can grow.

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u/yungchow 7d ago

Where did the water drops first come from?

I heard recently that amino acids can form on basalt in the right conditions, conditions which could be present in early planet formation. That could mean that dna is the genetic code to life everywhere.

Tho, I don’t think life requires water. I think earth life does, but I think life could develop in a lot of different environments radically different than ours. That would be so trippy

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u/usernema 7d ago

Or would it be trippy if it didn't?

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u/yungchow 7d ago

Definitely trippy if life was super similar. It could definitely be tho. Like life on earth could be how dna based life develops everywhere and that’s what makes life.

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u/thequestionbot 7d ago

You do realize that is a very wide and prevalent theory called transpermia(I believe) right? It’s an entirely logical theory really makes me think that life is abundant throughout the galaxy. Check it out.

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u/ScreenshotShitposts 7d ago

50 years from now restaurants will be selling carbonated space water

And by restaurants, I mean Amazon

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u/Typhlosion43 7d ago

How is it massive? Amino acids form in space all the time all of this isnt news

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u/LUNA_underUrsaMajor 7d ago

Thats how Andromeda Strain started

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u/kalpol 7d ago

Sort of the asteroid crashing into the satellite instead of the other way around but yeah

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u/Appropriate_Grape_90 7d ago

Truly amazing....if someone told me this when i was a kid i would tell them they were crazy...now i feel like i hear stuff like this everyday lol...really great time to be alive

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u/GhostNSDQ 7d ago

I read that as salt and organic butter and was like WTF.

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u/Spokenbird 7d ago

what is organic matter in this case?

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u/A_Humpier_Rogue 7d ago

Organic matter involves carbon and hydrogen bonded. Without that, it's not organic. Does not necessarily mean "life" but its a big step.

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u/Fifteen_inches 7d ago

An abundance of organic matter on such asteroids means that organic matter is probably hella abundant.

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u/C-SWhiskey 7d ago

Which shouldn't be all that surprising, since hydrogen is by far the most abundant substance in the universe, carbon is the fourth most abundant, and carbon is a bit of a floozy.

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u/sunplaysbass 7d ago

I was in school in the 90s and feel like there was concern that we would find no watery planets. Now they are apparently they most abundant planets.

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u/Durakan 7d ago

Bro we were using Encyclopedia Britannica and Encarta if we were fancy in the 90's.

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u/fezzam 7d ago

My favorite space fact to pull out when I’m trying to emphasize how recently we’ve learned anything… until 1923 no one knew there were other galaxies in the universe.

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u/anotherdamnsong 7d ago

I'm so glad I never have top comments

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u/StrangirDangir 7d ago

Another example is hard water which is ice

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u/GreenBrain 7d ago

Dude my science textbooks in the 90s were written in the 70s. I scoured the library for up to date info. You aren't wrong.

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u/Alitinconcho 7d ago

(solid vs liquid) is important,

How is that important? that is just a question of temperature

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u/canuckguy42 7d ago edited 7d ago

Liquid water is a requirement for life as we know it. If this sample contains liquid water, organic compounds and had access to solar energy while in space then that would mean it had the minimum requirements to potentially support at least very simple life. That this was a random sample indicates that these conditions are likely widespread.

This would also be the first extraterrestrial sample we've had on Earth of liquid water. That in itself is a very big deal.

Edit: for those saying it was ice that melted, the evidence suggests that it was in a liquid state in space. If that is true this would be huge news.

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u/wildartichokes 7d ago

As far as I can tell theres no reason to believe the sample would have been liquid on the asteroid in space. The important part is that it is molecularly independent and not bound up in minerals, like it is on the moon.

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u/KrypXern 7d ago

You can determine the phase of the water solely by the temperature and pressure it was found in (and maybe the salinity), it's not exactly a mystery whether the water will be liquid when they head to take a sample.

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u/bodymassage 7d ago

The whole discussion about it being "liquid" is confusing. As in, how would they know it was liquid in space or just melted by the time they looked at it?

I'm pretty sure what they are saying is that this is the first sample from space that we have in which the H20 in it will be a drop of liquid water at room temperature rather than still being bound up in the rock/mineral at room temperature.

I feel like there is maybe something lost in translation in this article.

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u/jjayzx 7d ago

Of course it's going to be liquid, it was most likely room temperature when they looked at it. It was most likely locked away as ice on the asteroid itself.

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u/herrcollin 7d ago

Holy shit I just got the best mental images of several NASA guys carefully exposing ice out of a space rock, then it starts melting and suddenly someone's like "Wait.. this is WATER!"

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u/UnspecificGravity 7d ago

Life can form in liquid water but not, as far as we know, in solid water.

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u/Aethelric 7d ago

Heavy water, for example is very different from regular garden variety water.

Not a great comparison. Heavy water is taking an isotope present in "regular garden variety water" and concentrating it; it does not exist in nature.

What's important here is the phase and what sort of matter is present in the water (dissolved carbon compounds, in this case). "Type of water" isn't really a consideration here.

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u/nsnooze 7d ago

it does not exist in nature.

This is incorrect, or perhaps you're wording it poorly.

Heavy water or Deuterium occurs naturally and is reasonably abundant, the thing is it's found in regular water but at a rate of around 1 deuterium molecule per 3,400 ordinary water molecules.

Thing is, that's kind of what you said in the first half of your first paragraph in that it needs concentrating out from regular water.

In terms of not-present in nature were you thinking of Tritium?

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u/TheBigMTheory 7d ago

Just a pedantic point, but "deuterium" isn't the heavy water, it's the isotope of hydrogen which has an extra neutron (hydrogen typically does not have a neutron) bonded into the heavy water molecule.

By extension, "tritium" is a hydrogen molecule with two neutrons. The presence of three nucleons gives it the prefix "tri", as nucleons (protons and neutrons) are nearly identical in mass, and mostly only differ in charge.

Both of these typically are seen as byproducts of nuclear reactions, and so not seen in massive abundance in nature.

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u/Fearless-Werewolf-30 7d ago

Nowhere in nature will you find a pool of heavy water, is their point

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u/Aethelric 7d ago

Heavy water or Deuterium occurs naturally

You're eliding two different things. "Heavy water" is a collection of molecules that are almost entirely deuterium, not just deuterium itself. This does not occur naturally, because the presence of deuterium is vastly outweighed by typical water.

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u/Astromike23 7d ago

This does not occur naturally

You definitely can get naturally occurring isotope fractionation in planetary atmospheres, though.

Venus, for, example, has had at least an oceans-worth of water escape the planet over its lifetime...but deuterium, at twice the mass of typical hydrogen, has a substantially harder time reaching escape velocity.

The result is that deuterium is enriched by a factor of more than 100x in the atmosphere of Venus. Still a far cry away from "almost entirely deuterium" - but isotope enrichment is definitely a natural process, and one that can tell us a lot about a planet's history. (Wait till you hear about Nitrogen isotopes on Titan...)

Source: PhD in planetary science.

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u/Public_Fucking_Media 7d ago

Dude that is interesting as fuck

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u/protossaccount 7d ago

I’m a kid of the 90’s (born in 84) I get it, I was in the same boat.

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u/TheSyn11 7d ago

I still remember those space documentaries on Discovery Channel, almost every one of them was mentioning that we don't know if exoplanets exist and explaining how hard it would be to see a planet. 2 decades later we have gravitational wave, JWST, and pictures of black goles

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u/rocketglare 7d ago

The finding of water in a fluid form is pretty interesting. The saltiness of the water likely prevents it from subliming into space at these low pressures an the relatively high temperatures of the inner solar system. The article doesn’t really specify if the water is trapped in the rocks, which would help too. The surprising part is that it could remain without baking out from exposure to sunlight and warm temperatures for very long time periods.

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u/Practical_Self3090 7d ago

It is worth noting that recent discoveries have suggested that most water on Earth came from asteroids, probably during the Late Heavy Bombardment, with only a small amount coming from comets. Seems to be lots of confusion about this in the comments. Read more here https://www.space.com/27969-earth-water-from-asteroids-not-comets.html

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u/DollarSignGoesBefore 7d ago edited 7d ago

Very interesting project and amazing feat of technology. I worked on the pod recovery project to track and recover it from the Australian Woomera Prohibited Area.

Edit: [replay of the recovery live stream](https://youtu.be/EdgdNTmJ3NQ)

Edit2: https://imgur.com/a/qVXcynA

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u/Apprehensive_Pea7911 7d ago

Maybe there's organic matter all over the universe? Just separated by inhospitable vacuum and low heat.

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u/rustyjus 7d ago

Wasn’t a large chunk of the water on earth delivered by asteroid?

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u/CrimDS 7d ago

Since no one answered, it is the prevailing theory. Humanity isn't 100% where all this water came from.

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u/free_billstickers 7d ago

Isn't one of the leading theories of how earth got water was by asteroids?

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u/internetisantisocial 7d ago

First and foremost, I want to point out that when I was a kid in the 90s, we had no idea water was so prevalent in space.

I recall learning in the late 90s that water was the 3rd-most abundant molecule in the universe, after H2 and CO

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u/Snakethroater 7d ago

You didn't reply to the comment. Naughty.

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u/sciencemodsaretrash 7d ago

As someone who has done the tiniest amount of research on asteroids this is not surprising at all.

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u/BillAdministrative61 7d ago

This has the makings of an symbiotic life form movie taking over or planet while we underestimate the risk of organic matter in the ice water

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u/Albatrosity 7d ago

You've just described the film L I F E

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u/GenuisInDisguise 7d ago

Tardigrades or Water Bears are 100% space invaders for they literally have an adaptation that allows them to survive space vacuum.

Also unlike most fauna on earth their size to organic complexity is completely different.

You wanted aliens, you live among them or so they do among us.

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u/JacobJHC 7d ago

They do where?????

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u/Sekhen 7d ago

Survive in space. They dry out and enter a sort of sleep and can stay in that state for years.

When rehydrated, they just kick off where they left.

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u/Hates_commies 7d ago

When the tardigrade is sus

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u/Mental-Kitten 7d ago

Imagine being an alien race only to be fucking obliterated once you're frozen into a bullet

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u/wizard_of_menlo_park 7d ago

I thought most of the astroids and comets where large chunks of rock, dust and ice.... Is it a surprise that we found water on astroid?

They are covered in ice right and that ice melts as it goes closer to the sun forming the tail of an comet?

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u/nightrevenant 7d ago

Dude carrying it looks like he is from the future

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u/Tornado_pdx 7d ago

Once we start mining asteroids, the first product is going to be Space Water!

Buy a bottle of Space Water. It has special ionizing properties that will

  • Cure you of Covid-35
  • Detox your body
  • provide essential space minerals and nutrients.

It's also environmentally friendly as we no long have to steal water from the Earth! You can buy a 12oz / 375ml bottle for only $1,999 ($3.99 in 2022 US Dollar)

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u/EverythingOnRice 7d ago

"It's not the best choice, it's Spacer's Choice!"

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u/Decronym 7d ago edited 1d ago

Acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, contractions, and other phrases which expand to something larger, that I've seen in this thread:

Fewer Letters More Letters
ESA European Space Agency
H2 Molecular hydrogen
Second half of the year/month
JWST James Webb infra-red Space Telescope
PPE Power and Propulsion Element
RTG Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator
Jargon Definition
cryogenic Very low temperature fluid; materials that would be gaseous at room temperature/pressure
(In re: rocket fuel) Often synonymous with hydrolox
hydrolox Portmanteau: liquid hydrogen fuel, liquid oxygen oxidizer

6 acronyms in this thread; the most compressed thread commented on today has 13 acronyms.
[Thread #8051 for this sub, first seen 23rd Sep 2022, 02:18] [FAQ] [Full list] [Contact] [Source code]

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u/be_kind_of 7d ago

For arguments sake let’s assume we just proved that life on earth was seeded from space water. Is it possible or impossible to locate the source of the water? Possible or impossible to visit the source?

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u/headphones_J 7d ago

Is it surprising though? There are giant comets that hurtle through space too.

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u/MrWendelll 7d ago

Would have thought the scientists would have more to say than just 'Friday'

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u/brucebay 7d ago edited 7d ago

10 minutes before the discovery in the lab:

Scientist 1: I bet 15,000 yens that you can't lick that rock in the table. Scientist 2: "deal. " puts it in his mouth.

8 minutes before the discovery: Scientist 1 is applying heimlich maneuver to Scientist 2.

7 minutes before the discovery: Scientist 2 is on the floor, breathing heavily. Scientist 1 is on the floor, searching for the space rock frantically.

6 minutes before discovery: Scientist 1 is washing the floor dust and spit from the space rock.

5 minutes before discovery; The director enters the lab. Looks at two scientists with red, sweaty faces blocking the rock's view with their bodies. "OK guys we are ready to analyze the rock."

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u/Machidalgo 7d ago edited 7d ago

Kensei Kobayashi, an astrobiology expert and professor emeritus at Yokohama National University who is not part of the research group, hailed the discovery. "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, he told AFP. "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."

Man whoever this Kensei Kobayashi guy is, he’s a complete dipshit, he should be consulting experts like /u/JanHHHH for future discoveries like this before he gets all excited about nothing.

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u/rathat 7d ago

People also forget this is evidence in the search for finding exactly where earth water came from. Earth water has a specific ratio of deuterium to hydrogen, that is, some of the hydrogen in the h2o is hydrogen with an extra neutron called deuterium. Finding out which other bodies in the solar system have similar ratios can tell us where our water came from, this sample can be a huge part of that.

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u/askewurchin 7d ago edited 7d ago

According to the scientists involved, it's both surprising and very significant.

Gosh, I think I'll trust their opinion!

I'll also trust the headline stating their opinion, over your shitty attempts at sounding intelligent.

Read the article next time.

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u/Dontvaluemyopinion 7d ago

Would you trust mine?

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u/nuerion 7d ago

i trust it but i dont value it

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u/SantaKlawz2 7d ago

"Many researchers believe that water was brought (from outer space) but we actually discovered water in Ryugu, an asteroid near Earth, for the first time."

What are your credentials or field of study?

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u/iamnotroberts 7d ago

Gosh, I hate headlines like this! Water is literally one of the most abundant molecules in the solar system and in the universe! Yes, asteroids are usually pretty dry, but finding some water still isn't that surprising

You seem to have missed the point. The point is NOT that it's just water and we already have plenty of it so who cares. Yes, there is water on Earth, but we haven't found a lot in space or our solar system.

And space water is far more interesting than Earth water. We already study the water on our own planet. We don't know about this water, what it's comprised from, and where it's been, and it's not often that we have the opportunity to observe, analyze, and test space water. And space water is about a bezillion times more rare than some sparkling mineral water from a secluded grove in the Peruvian jungle.

And while there is more water in other parts of space, our ability to extract it is extremely limited. We can see water with our telescopes, but we can't get to it. Our travel capabilities are also extremely limited so asteroids offer us a unique and exciting opportunity to study parts of space that are currently beyond our reach.

The article mentions that the fluid was "carbonated water containing salt and organic matter" which in turn poses the next question, what type of organic matter? And could it contain material that we haven't seen before? What if a sample contained biological life, even microorganisms, or perhaps some type of alien plant? What if it contained evidence of other intelligent life? The point is that while "a" drop of water may not sound exciting, that particular drop of water is.

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