A unique meteorite confirmed the hypothesis about the asteroid origin of water on Earth

(ORDO NEWS) — At the beginning of 2021, scientists managed to collect fragments of a meteorite almost immediately after the fall, almost uncontaminated.

The celestial body turned out to be rich in water containing the same proportions of isotopes as water on Earth.

This shows that it was the ancient asteroids that filled the seas and oceans of our planet with moisture.

Three-quarters of the surface of the Earth is covered with water, it was in the water that life arose and developed. The question of where so much moisture came from on the planet remains open.

The most generally accepted hypothesis says that it was “delivered” by comets and asteroids that were actively bombarding the young planet.

But there are other versions – and that the Earth initially included a large part of its water, and that the Sun played a certain role in its appearance.

A unique meteorite found in the UK last year confirmed the “asteroid” hypothesis.

The celestial body fell on February 28, 2021 in the vicinity of the small English town of Winchcombe.

The event was recorded by thousands of live witnesses, as well as video recorders, surveillance cameras and even “smart bells” on the doors of local residents.

Within a few hours, scientists collected the remains of the meteorite on the nearest road.

Extremely fragile, it crumbled on impact, and only about 300 grams of small fragments and dust ended up in the hands of the researchers.

Over the next hours, another 200 grams of debris were found in the vicinity, including one rather large one.

A unique meteorite confirmed the hypothesis about the asteroid origin of water on Earth 2
Remains of a meteorite on the road near Winchcombe

“Thanks to the rapid collection and delivery, Winchcombe has become one of the purest, pristine meteorites ever analyzed, creating a unique opportunity to travel through time and figure out the composition of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago,” said Ashley King (Ashley King), who analyzed the unique find with colleagues from the Natural History Museum in London.

In fact, the meteorite did not have time to be deeply affected by terrestrial conditions, largely retaining its original characteristics.

Winchcombe belongs to the chondrites , a very common group of meteorites that formed directly from the protoplanetary cloud that surrounded the young Sun.

Scientists have identified it as a carbonaceous SM chondrite rich in silicon and iron compounds. It also found amino acids and other simple organic molecules; carbon accounts for about two percent of Winchcombe’s mass.

Another 11 percent is water included in hydrated minerals. The isotopic composition of this water is similar to that of the Earth, indicating their possible relationship.

The authors of the work emphasize that if the meteorite had lain longer, it would have been much more polluted with water from the environment, and such an analysis would have been impossible.

Based on the chemical and isotopic composition of Winchcombe, as well as data from cameras that recorded the trajectory of its passage through the atmosphere, scientists found that the meteorite was relatively recently knocked out of the surface of an asteroid that was in the vicinity of Jupiter.

According to their calculations, this happened only about a million years ago, and the last 80 thousand years the fragment was in the vicinity of the Earth.

In this way, it is possible to trace the origin of a maximum of one meteorite out of a thousand, which once again emphasizes the uniqueness of Winchcombe.


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