Water Discovered on 2nd Asteroid, May Be Even More Common

Water ice on asteroids may be more common than expected, according to a new study. Two teams of researchers who made national headlines in April for showing the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid have now discovered that asteroid 65 Cybele contains the same material.

A UCF researcher who made national headlines for showing the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid has discovered another one. Image Credit: Gabriel Perez, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain

"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."

Campins will present the teams' findings during the 42nd-annual Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in Pasadena, Calif., which concludes Friday, Oct. 8.

Asteroid 65 Cybele is somewhat larger than asteroid 24 Themis - the subject of the teams' first paper. Cybele has a diameter of 290 km (180 miles). Themis has a diameter of 200 km (124 miles). Both are in the same region of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The academic article reporting this new finding has been accepted for publication in the European Journal "Astronomy and Astrophysics."

The paper's coauthors are Zoe Landsman and Kelly Hasgrove of UCF; Javier Licandro of Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain; Michael S. Kelley of the Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland; Noemi Pinilla-Alonso and Dale Cruikshank of the NASA Ames Research Center; Andrew S. Rivkin of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; and Joshua Emery of the Earth and Planetary Science Department, University of Tennessee.

Campins is an expert on asteroids and comets. He received national attention for an article published in Nature showing the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on asteroid 24 Themis. He has also worked on several science missions with NASA and the European Space Agency. Campins holds degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Arizona. He joined UCF in 2002 as the Provost Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and head of the Planetary and Space Science Group.

Source: University of Central Florida