Extra-terrestrial water found in a meteorite that landed in the UKtext_fields
For the first time in history, scientists have found extra-terrestrial water. A meteorite that landed in Gloucestershire town, the UK in February 2021 has 12% water content.
It is the least contaminated specimen collected to date and experts believe that it may hold clues to where Earth's oceans came from. The 0.5 kg space rock was retrieved within 12 hours of landing on Earth. It was not contaminated by Earth's water or other materials. The extra-terrestrial water in the rock is locked up in minerals.
The meteorite came from an asteroid somewhere near Jupiter. It was likely formed around 4.6 billion years ago. Its journey to Earth took around 300,000 years.
Ashley King, a researcher in the planetary materials group at the Natural History Museum told The Independent that the meteorite offers a lot of insights because the composition of extra-terrestrial water is "very, very similar" to the composition of Earth's water. He added that the meteorite is a really good piece of evidence that asteroids and bodies like Winchcombe made a very important contribution to the Earth's oceans.
The expert told Sky News that one of the biggest questions in planetary sciences is where did the water on Earth come from? Comets are one of the main suspects because they have a lot of ice in them. However, data from comets suggest that they are not a good match for Earth's water.
"The composition of the water in Winchcombe is a much better match, so that would imply that asteroids - carbonaceous asteroids - were probably the main source of water to the inner solar system, to the Earth," said King.