Life on Earth began after asteroids crashed into the planet, scientists have claimed.
Astronomers have confirmed for the first time that a giant space rock contains frozen water on its surface.
Analysis of asteroid 24 Themis also shows evidence of widespread organic chemicals.
The scientists say this supports the theory that asteroids brought both water and compounds to the early Earth – helping lay the foundation for life on the planet.
Using an Hawaii based NASA telescope they studied infrared sunlight reflected by 200-kilometer wide 24 Themis that sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter in an area called the Main Belt.
October 10, 2010
Scientists have found water ice on an asteroid for the second time in just six months.
The discovery suggests that such ice is more common on asteroids in our section of the solar system than previously thought – and that such asteroids may have delivered much of the essentials for early life to Earth.
Two research teams found evidence of water and organic molecules on asteroid 65 Cybele.
Six months ago the teams made a similar discovery on a different rock – asteroid 24 Themis – for the first time.