Discovery of fossil asteroidal ice in primitive meteorite Acfer 094

Sci Adv. 2019 Nov 20;5(11):eaax5078. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax5078. eCollection 2019 Nov.


Carbonaceous chondrites are meteorites believed to preserve our planet's source materials, but the precise nature of these materials still remains uncertain. To uncover pristine planetary materials, we performed synchrotron radiation-based x-ray computed nanotomography of a primitive carbonaceous chondrite, Acfer 094, and found ultraporous lithology (UPL) widely distributed in a fine-grained matrix. UPLs are porous aggregates of amorphous and crystalline silicates, Fe─Ni sulfides, and organics. The porous texture must have been formed by removal of ice previously filling pore spaces, suggesting that UPLs represent fossils of primordial ice. The ice-bearing UPLs formed through sintering of fluffy icy dust aggregates around the H2O snow line in the solar nebula and were incorporated into the Acfer 094 parent body, providing new insight into asteroid formation by dust agglomeration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't