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Water ice discovered on second asteroid this year

Researchers who showed the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid in April have found a second instance. Photo by: Gabriel Pérez, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain.

WASHINGTON (BNS): Scientists have found evidence of an asteroid carrying water and organic molecules for the second time this year, according to a new study that is being presented at the world's largest gathering of planetary scientists.

Two teams of researchers who announced in April the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid have now discovered that asteroid 65 Cybele contains the same material.

"This discovery suggests that this region of our solar system contains more water ice than anticipated. 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," Professor Humberto Campins from University of Central Florida, was quoted as saying in a news release.

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.

Campins will present the findings Friday at the 42nd-annual Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in Pasadena, California.


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