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TECHNOLOGY

Scientists recover water from a meteorite that came from space

Por: Ecoo sfera19 de noviembre de 2022

Meteorite collected within hours remains undisturbed and may provide clues to how life on Earth formed.

The most pristine thing that could be achieved without going into space was the collection of the Winchcombe meteorite only 12 hours after its fall to Earth. Because of this rapid collection, the meteorite is almost unaltered by the planet’s environment, which may imply a lot about what the Earth was like in its infancy, as it contains the type of hydrogen similar to Earth’s and would explain the water on Earth.

Winchcombe Meteorite

Having collected this meteorite at such short notice has been of great help to the scientific community that is studying the hydrogen composition of this visitor from outer space that crashed to Earth last year in the village of Winchcombe in England. This is because it has barely been exposed to the Earth’s elements and has maintained its pristine chemical composition.

[Photo: Jonathan E.Jackson / NHM Photo Unit]

The Winchcombe meteorite is a carbonaceous contrite, a rare class of meteorites thought to have come from very primitive asteroids that migrated into the main asteroid belt from the outer edges of the solar system, and its chemical composition is thought to have changed very little since the creation of the solar system.

It has been revealed that the meteorite must have broken away from its parent asteroid only 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. According to scientists, they spend millions of years in interplanetary space before their trajectory intersects that of the Earth and, during this time, they are devastated by cosmic rays and the solar wind.

Fastest study of a meteorite that fell to Earth

The analysis of this meteorite provides insight into how the Earth obtained water, the main source of life on our planet, as it seems to support the theory that Earth’s water came from asteroids.

[Photo: Jonathan E.Jackson / NHM Photo Unit]

According to scientists, the most spectacular feature of this meteorite is the ratio of hydrogen isotopes so strikingly similar to that of water on Earth. Its samples are almost comparable to samples collected by space probes on asteroids in space.

Isotopes are varieties of chemical elements that differ in the number of neutrons in their atomic nuclei. Other possible sources of Earth’s water have previously been found to contain water with different isotopic profiles.

In addition to the right types of hydrogen, the meteorite also contains organic material of the type that could have given rise to life on Earth some 3.5 billion years ago, the scientists said in a statement.

“Researchers were still working on this piece for years, unlocking more secrets about the origins of our solar system,” said University of Glasgow professor Luke Daly, author of the paper published in Science Advances.

Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera


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