NEW YORK (Agencies): In a groundbreaking discovery, researchers have found that asteroid surfaces can contain water molecules. This is the first time such a discovery has been made, shedding light on the evolution and composition of asteroids, remnants from planetary formation.

The astronomers observed two asteroids, Iris and Massalia, located about 223.1 million miles from the sun. They detected water molecules on these cosmic bodies, lending credence to the idea that asteroids might have brought water to Earth in the distant past when the young planet was bombarded from space.

The study team gathered data using an airborne telescope on the now-decommissioned Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), fitted with a Faint Object Infrared Camera. The decision to explore asteroids using SOFIA was inspired by the telescope’s earlier detection of water on the moon, according to Dr. Anicia Arredondo, the lead researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

One of the research’s co-authors, Dr. Maggie McAdam from NASA’s Ames Research Center, had earlier found traces of frozen liquid on the asteroids using a different telescope. However, it was unclear if the substance was water or another compound.

The quantity of water discovered is equivalent to a small bottle within every cubic meter of soil, similar to what SOFIA found in one of the biggest lunar craters in 2020. This discovery offers insights into the distribution of materials in space and the potential transport of water to other planets that could support life.

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