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NASA's Dawn probe spacecraft might have found hydrated minerals on the asteroid Vesta, and the news comes as the spacecraft ends its efforts of following the Arizona-sized asteroid.
Astronomers stated they have discovered hydrogen on the asteroid that has been referred to as a protoplanet.
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According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the lead scientist for Dawn's gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND) at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, Thomas Prettyman, believes the source of the hydrogen on Vesta's surface is from hydrated minerals delivered by "carbon-rich space rocks that collided with Vesta at speeds slow enough to preserve their volatile content."
Vesta orbits between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid is believed to have been created during the first million years of the solar system's existence, according to Space.
Scientists have estimated that Vesta's soil holds "five percent water by weight," but that isn't enough to get "astronauts wet or even offer them much of a drink," as Scientific American put it.
Dawn has been following Vesta for over a year. The spacecraft launched in September 2007 but didn't get to Vesta's track until last year and cost $466 million to organize.
Dawn has since embarked on a new mission and will following Ceres, a dwarf planet. Dawn's journey to follow Ceres, which the Associated Press said is the size of Texas, will take about three years. NASA officials expect an early 2015 date for Dawn's arrival to Ceres.