MAY 15, 2021 10:38 AM PDT

Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Scientists know that water is abundant in the solar system- existing in the rings of Saturn and on its moon, Enceladus. However, while they have suspected for some time that water can be preserved in a kind of meteorite known as carbonaceous chondrites, they have been unable to detect water within these rocks until now.

For the study, scientists at Ritsumeikan University in Japan studied fragments of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite, which was collected by NASA Ames and SETI Institute meteor astronomer, Dr. Peter Jenniskens, on April 14 2021, two days after arriving on Earth. The meteorite formed 4.6 million years ago meaning that studying the rocks it left behind can reveal aspects of the early Universe. 

The researchers used microscopy techniques to analyze the meteorite. In doing so, they noticed a tiny calcite crystal in which there was an even smaller amount of liquid consisting of at least 15% carbon dioxide. This, they say, confirms both liquid water and carbon dioxide can exist in ancient space rocks. 

The researchers say that the parent asteroid for this meteorite likely formed beyond Jupiter in a cold part of our solar system. There, it probably formed with frozen water and carbon dioxide before making its way towards Earth. 

This assumption follows findings from previous theoretical studies for the solar system’s evolution. These studies suggest that asteroids rich in small, volatile molecules like water and carbon dioxide formed beyond Jupiter before venturing towards Earth. 

The discovery of water within carbonaceous chondrites may help inform the search for the origins of Earth’s water. Currently, one of the leading theories behind how water appeared on Earth is that arrived via such meteorites. The findings also give scientists important insights into the early years of the solar system. 

 

Sources: Space.comScience Advances

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
DEC 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
How Do Spiders Behave in Zero Gravity?
DEC 29, 2020
How Do Spiders Behave in Zero Gravity?
The International Space Station (ISS) is a treasure trove of scientific intrigue. But it's not just life-saving drug ...
FEB 20, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
FEB 20, 2021
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
NASA scientists have confirmed that their car-sized Perseverance Mars rover is 'healthy' following its arrival o ...
APR 21, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
APR 21, 2021
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
A new pulsar has been discovered with images from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, a low-frequency radio t ...
MAY 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
MAY 01, 2021
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
Astrophysicists from the University of Minnesota have found evidence for the theory that small galaxies emitting high-en ...
MAY 29, 2021
Space & Astronomy
First Matter in the Universe Flowed Like Tap Water
MAY 29, 2021
First Matter in the Universe Flowed Like Tap Water
In two separate studies, researchers led by those at the University of Copenhagen and Queen Mary University of London fo ...
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
JUN 08, 2021
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
A team of scientists led by the Centre for Astrobiology have discovered that the bulges we see in disc galaxies formed i ...
Loading Comments...