Earth-Bound Meteorites Come from Stony Asteroids
Thanks to the Hayabusa space mission, researchers have gotten their first up-close look at dust from the surface of an asteroid. The unmanned Japanese spacecraft was launched in 2003 and sent to the stony, or S-type, asteroid known as 25143 Itokawa. In 2005, it landed on the surface of that asteroid and scooped up some loose dust. Hayabusa returned to Earth in 2010, and researchers from all over the world have been analyzing the asteroid dust ever since.
Studies with the dust have confirmed what researchers suspected all along: that the most common meteorites found here on Earth come from these S-type asteroids. And since the meteorites that land on Earth are among the oldest objects in our solar system, researchers suggest that asteroids have been around just as long, recording a long history of early solar system events.
Tomoki Nakamura and colleagues were among the first researchers to analyze the dust from Itokawa. …