Violent History Preserved in Asteroid Grains

Violent History Preserved in Asteroid Grains

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The world’s first asteroid sample return mission is providing some stunning insights to the evolution of the primordial pieces of rock floating around in our solar system. But far from asteroids being quiet, peaceful objects drifting through space, analysis of the tiny dust samples from the surface of near-Earth asteroid Itokawa has shown they are constantly — and violently — sandblasted by micrometeorites.

Asteroids carry critical information about the early history of our solar system and they are the intermediate stage before planetary bodies accumulated enough mass to be considered “planets.” Studying their formation on microscopic scales therefore provides an incredible insight to these primordial bodies.

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