New research uncovers the origins of Earth’s water

Researchers believe the study could also help future space missions find sources of water on airless worlds.

New research reveals the origins of Earth’s water
© Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
New research reveals the origins of Earth’s water

About 71% of the earth is made up of water, but if you have ever wondered where that water comes from, this new research may have the answer you seek. A group of scientists has found that the sun is the source of water on Earth.

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Space Weathering

After analysing an ancient asteroid, researchers concluded that extra-terrestrial dust grains carried water to Earth as the planet formed. This dust was produced by ‘space weathering’, according to the study.

The research, published in Nature Astronomy, also suggests that the solar wind, made up of charged particles from the Sun, created water on the surface of dust grains carried on asteroids that smashed into the Earth at the early stages of the formation of the Solar System.

Lead author Dr Luke Daly, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, said:

Crucially, this solar wind-derived water produced by the early solar system is isotopically light. That strongly suggests that fine-grained dust, buffeted by the solar wind and drawn into the forming Earth billions of years ago, could be the source of the missing reservoir of the planet’s water.

Prospects For Future Space Explorations

The University of Glasgow-led team therefore believe that the finding could solve the mystery surrounding the source of water on planet Earth.

The study also proposes that knowing how much water might be contained in space-weathered surfaces could help future space explorers to manufacture supplies of water on even the most seemingly arid planets. Co-author, Professor Hope Ishii of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, said:

One of the problems of future human space exploration is how astronauts will find enough water to keep them alive and accomplish their tasks without carrying it with them on their journey.

He added that the findings offer an exciting prospect for space exploration

That could mean that space explorers may well be able to process fresh supplies of water straight from the dust on the planet’s surface. It’s exciting to think that the processes which formed the planets could help to support human life as we reach out beyond Earth.
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