Organic matter and water from asteroid Itokawa

Q. H.S. Chan, A. Stephant, I. A. Franchi, X. Zhao, R. Brunetto, Y. Kebukawa, T. Noguchi, D. Johnson, M. C. Price, K. H. Harriss, M. E. Zolensky, M. M. Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the true nature of extra-terrestrial water and organic matter that were present at the birth of our solar system, and their subsequent evolution, necessitates the study of pristine astromaterials. In this study, we have studied both the water and organic contents from a dust particle recovered from the surface of near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa by the Hayabusa mission, which was the first mission that brought pristine asteroidal materials to Earth’s astromaterial collection. The organic matter is presented as both nanocrystalline graphite and disordered polyaromatic carbon with high D/H and 15N/14N ratios (δD = + 4868 ± 2288‰; δ15N = + 344 ± 20‰) signifying an explicit extra-terrestrial origin. The contrasting organic feature (graphitic and disordered) substantiates the rubble-pile asteroid model of Itokawa, and offers support for material mixing in the asteroid belt that occurred in scales from small dust infall to catastrophic impacts of large asteroidal parent bodies. Our analysis of Itokawa water indicates that the asteroid has incorporated D-poor water ice at the abundance on par with inner solar system bodies. The asteroid was metamorphosed and dehydrated on the formerly large asteroid, and was subsequently evolved via late-stage hydration, modified by D-enriched exogenous organics and water derived from a carbonaceous parent body.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5125
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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