The discovery of water ice on asteroids raises questions about the early solar system and the origin of life on Earth
A thin film of water ice and organic materials coats the space rock named 24 Themis, according to a study released today. That discovery marks the first-ever direct detection of water ice on an asteroid, and adds evidence to theories about how asteroids could have brought water and organic material to a primordial Earth.
A NASA telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea helped scientists gauge the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by 24 Themis. Their findings revealed a spectrum consistent with both frozen water and organic material on the 124-mile-wide asteroid, which sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter.