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Life came from space

world Updated: Apr 30, 2010 00:34 IST

Astronomers have detected a coating of ice and organic chemicals on one of the largest asteroids in the solar system.

The space rock, called 24 Themis, orbits the sun in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, more than 298 million km from Earth.

The discovery supports the idea that asteroids may have brought water and organic material to Earth and set the stage for the emergence of life. Two groups confirmed the composition of the asteroid after observing the 200 km-wide rock through NASA’s infrared telescope facility on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.