Second asteroid found to contain water

Oct. 7, 2010 at 7:58 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The discovery of water on a second asteroid suggests water and ice may be more common in the solar system than previously believed, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida, who caused excitement among scientists in April for showing the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid, have discovered a second asteroid contains the same material, a university release said Thursday.

"This discovery suggests that this region of our solar system contains more water ice than anticipated," University of Central Florida Professor Humberto Campins says. "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."

The newly discovered asteroid, 65 Cybele, is somewhat larger than 24 Themis, the first one discovered by the researchers. Cybele has a diameter of 180 miles, while Themis has a diameter of 124 miles.

Both are in the same region of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Campins will present the teams' findings during the 42nd-annual Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in Pasadena, Calif., which concludes Friday.

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