back to article Water big surprise: H2O found in samples of 'dry' asteroid brought to Earth over millions of miles by plucky probe

A pair of astronomers have managed to find water in an asteroid sample mined from the rocky remnant Itokawa, a type of asteroid previously thought to be bone dry. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, paid Itokawa a visit with its Hayabusa probe in 2005. The kidney bean shaped asteroid measures 1,800 feet long and 700 to 1,000 feet …

  1. Graham Cunningham

    "Kindeny bean shaped"

    The "kidney bean", so named because......

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: "Kindeny bean shaped"

      I thought it looked a bit more like a cashew nut, albeit one that is well over its best before date

  2. Blockchain commentard

    Firing rockets at giant asteroids? Haven't they seen Armageddon?

  3. Semtex451

    rock was heated between 1,000 and 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit

    So what Gas Mark is that?

    And just how many Fl. oz of water is in it?

    You also forgot the number of olympic size swimming pools its worth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: rock was heated between 1,000 and 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit

      Gas mark 78, I think

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: rock was heated between 1,000 and 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit

        Gas mark? Shirley that should be "Thermostats" now that you lot have gone with teh French metrics. That would be 40ish to 80ish Th. by my calculations.

        Got the wood-fired pizza oven cranking ... should be up to Regulo 26ish by tea time.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Brilliant stuff!

    Well done those Japanese boffins!

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "It’s a strange move"

    No, it really isn't. Science is all about experimentation and confirmation. Stony asteroids were considered to be devoid of water, but not proven to be.

    Science likes proof when it can get it, and this was the perfect opportunity to verify the hypothesis.

    Now we know that stony asteroids can have water. Science is advancing.

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Water big surprise: H2O

    laughing at your own headlines now?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Water big surprise: H2O

      Why yes, yes they do. You new here, Tom7?

  7. Chris G

    Handy to know

    For the survivalists out there, if you are stranded in space without much water; you can always suck an asteroid.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Handy to know

      Oi mate! Who are you telling to 'go suck an asteroid' eh?

    2. Terje

      Re: Handy to know

      I usually just prefer bringing a towel with me, then I can usually get water and lift to the nearest galactic vacation spot.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Handy to know

        ...nearest galactic vacation spot

        after trekking all that way, let's hope you can find a sunbed without a towel on it

    3. nanchatte

      Re: Handy to know

      Suction doesn’t work in a vacuum.

      Sorry. I’ll get my coat.

  8. Kubla Cant

    Muses Sea

    Can an object 1800 feet long have a sea? Muses Puddle might be more accurate.

  9. Aqua Marina

    Wouldn't surprise me..

    ..if one of these days we discover that water happens to be everywhere in abundance, and it isn't really as rare as science has believed all these years.

    1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

      Re: Wouldn't surprise me..

      Water water everywhere and not a drop (of beer) to drink

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't surprise me..

      It's way up there in the "common substances" list. The general idea was that asteroids whose orbits went much closer than earth-distance would have most of it gassed off by now.

  10. JeffyPoooh

    I do trust their findings, but...

    It's worth mentioning a lesson from history. Don't ask me for a source, it's merely a vague memory.

    Once upon a time, somebody found water in an unexpected scientific context, extraterrestrial meteorite or similar. All sorts of detailed theories were proposed to explain the origin of this bizarre primordial water. Later, with further analysis, they also noted traces of chlorine and just a hint of fluoride. "Oh, it's tap water. Somebody must have washed the sample in a sink."

    I presume that they've taken extraordinary precautions this time.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I do trust their findings, but...

      "Oh, it's tap water. Somebody must have washed the sample in a sink."

      There's a similar story about the labs where Rutherford did all his famous atom smashing - even after substantial cleanups aimed at removing any remaining radioactive nasties (where nothing was found) there were still statistically significant levels of illnesses and cancers amongst people working in the buildings. It was eventually traced to the labs' prior use for chemistry - specifically, mercury (from dropped samples and broken thermometers) had gotten into the cracks between the floorboards, soaked into the wood and oxidised over time, releasing enough vapour into the air to cause problems (and that's why you should never work in offices that happen to be converted old science classrooms)

  11. FozzyBear

    If they find traces of Urea in the water sample I'm running for the hills

    1. jake Silver badge

      But Fozzy ...

      ... I think you'll find traces of urea in them thar hills, too. You see, bears don't just shit in the woods.

      Oh, hang on ...

  12. adam 40 Silver badge

    Some hot water for a shave with Occam's Razor

    Occam's Razor would tend to indicate, therefore, that the primordial earth didn't need to be bombarded with water after forming, the water was there all along in the rocks it formed out of.

  13. BGatez

    They sent a probe out there, hit the mark and returned with a sample. Now that's doing the math! Science wins!

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