Discovering the primordial universe: the analysis of the fragments of the Ryugu asteroid started
An Italian team made up of researchers from the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), the University of Florence (UNIFI) and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) started the analysis of the two precious samples of the Ryugu asteroid received in May 2023 as part of an international call for the analysis of cosmic materials brought back to Earth by the Hayabusa-2 mission of the Japanese Space Agency JAXA.
The two grains available to the research team are called C0242 (weighting 0.7 milligrams and 1.712 millimeters long) and A0226 (weighting 1.9 milligrams and 2.288 millimeters long). Each grain is placed inside a special steel container filled with nitrogen, the purpose of which is both to preserve the grain by avoiding contamination due to dust and water vapour present in the environment, and to allow safe transport.
The first infrared spectroscopy investigations are underway at the SINBAD beamline of DAFNE-Light synchrotron light laboratory of the INFN- Frascati National Laboratories, thus exploiting the light produced by the laboratories’ particle accelerator, DAFNE.
With the first analyses, the research group will focus on the study of mineralogy, organic matter and water present in these samples to obtain the first information from these real fossils of the Solar System, which would date back to the very early stages of formation of our planetary system, i.e. about four billion years ago.
The sample holder containing the two asteroid grains analyzed under the infrared microscope. Credits: INFN- LNF
More details can be found at the following link: LNF News Ryugu Asteroid
Watch the video on MEDIAINAF TV: Ryugu Asteroid