The chemistry of that water is “very, very similar” to the composition of water in the Earth’s seas, according to researchers who noted that the meteorite offers several insights.
The meteorite, which fell into a driveway in a Gloucestershire town in February 2021, is said to contain information on the origins of the water that makes up the planet’s massive seas.
Will this lead to the origins of water?
For the first time, the fallen meteorite containing unmistakably extra-terrestrial water was discovered in the United Kingdom. More importantly, examinations of the water contained in the 1lb (0.5kg) meteorite’s minerals have revealed that it is remarkably similar to water already present on Earth.
Scientists were unknown until recently whether the majority of the water on Earth came from comets, meteorites, or other sources. But this discovery makes a strong case that meteor hits during or shortly after the planet’s formation provide the majority, if not all, of the water that makes up Earth’s lakes, rivers, and oceans. It might also have an impact on efforts to find extra-terrestrial life.
Approximately 12% of the sample, according to Ashley King, a researcher at the Natural History Museum’s planetary materials section, was made entirely of water, making it the least contaminated sample ever gathered, according to The Independent. He stated that the composition of the water in the meteorite is “very, very similar” to the design of water in the oceans on Earth. He claimed that the meteorite provides several insights.
According to the source, Mr. King said at the British Science Festival, “It’s excellent evidence that asteroids and bodies like Winchcombe made a major contribution to the Earth’s oceans.”
Furthermore, Mr. King stated that it was the first time a meteorite containing extra-terrestrial water had fallen in the United Kingdom, despite being imprisoned in minerals. He said that the 0.5 kg space rock was not affected by water or elements from Earth because it was recovered so quickly—within 12 hours.
Now “Where did the water on Earth come from is one of the major questions in planetary sciences. And one of the obvious routes is either by asteroids or comets with a ton of ice in them. Whether comets or asteroids were the primary sources is perpetually debatable.” Sky News quoted Mr. King as saying.
Water on Earth is practically always the presence of life. However, experts still debate over the origin of the water on Earth. There are now two primary schools of thought: the first postulates that water was transported to Earth by a series of comet attacks that occurred not long after the planet’s formation. This makes it reasonable, given how much ice and water comets possess. According to the second theory, early Earth was covered with water due to meteor strikes involving carbonaceous meteors that had significant amounts of water trapped within their components.
This particular meteorite, according to sources, crashed onto a road in the Gloucestershire town of Winchcombe in February and was recovered ten days later. This second section is crucial since nearly all of the 65,000 meteors observed on Earth were gathered too late to rule out contamination by the planet’s water.
However, the short time between the meteor’s impact and collection effectively rules out any significant pollution of Earth’s water in this instance. Imagine it as the cosmic five-second rule, but with a cosmic 10-day law instead. This latter point is crucial because it contrasts this meteorite’s substantial amount of water—12% by volume—with water on Earth.
The problem with most meteorites is that they are just contaminated, but with Winchcombe, the scientists are confident that it hasn’t been at all; therefore, this is strong proof.
The results of tests on the water trapped inside the Winchcombe space rock were rendered even more intriguing by this lack of contamination.
According to King, the chemical makeup of that water is very comparable to that of the oceans on Earth. It’s a relatively strong indication that bodies like Winchcombe and asteroids had a significant impact on the formation of the oceans on Earth.
These findings are consistent with other studies on cometary water that revealed considerable differences between cometary and Earthly water. For planetary scientists and geologists attempting to comprehend the source and origin of Earth’s water, such dispositive discoveries are essential. Additionally, the findings can aid astronomers and astrobiologists in their quest for extra-terrestrial life, mainly focusing on the most effective targets to use scarce resources.