October 22, 2021

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Boulders on asteroid Ryugu are surprisingly fluffy, Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe finds

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Boulders on asteroids can be three-quarters hollow or more, a discovery that could help yield insights on the way in which Earth and other planets formed, a new study finds.

The earliest stage of planetary formation started with building blocks known as planetesimals, chunks of rock ranging in size from asteroids to dwarf planets. Previous research suggested planetesimals might have begun as very porous, fluffy clumps of dust that heat, gravity and impacts compacted over time. But this idea remains unproven, study lead author Naoya Sakatani, a planetary scientist at Rikkyo University in Japan, told Space.com.

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