New research on a meteorite that landed in the front yard of a family in England last year could help you answer your question about where water comes from.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and London’s Natural History Museum examined a meteorite that was found in Winchcombe in Gloucestershire to find water similar to what is found on Earth.
Luke Daly, co-author of the study, and a lecturer on planetary geoscience at Glasgow University stated, “It’s an incredibly clear window into our early Solar System.”
The study, published in Science Advances on Wednesday, suggests that extraterrestrial rock may have brought essential chemical components to Earth billions of years before, creating the oceans and all living things on Earth.
According to the US Geological Survey, 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. The oceans hold approximately 96.5%.
The Winchcombe meteorite, as it is now known, was subject to chemical and imaging analysis. It
contains approximately 11% water and 22% carbon by weight. This makes it one of the most unique of its kind in the UK.
According to a press release by the Natural History Museum, the team that measured the hydrogen isotope content in the water found it closely resembled Earth’s water composition.
Extraterrestrial amino acid extracts were also discovered in the rock, which makes it the strongest evidence to date that water and organic material were brought to the planet from asteroids such as the one Winchcombe broke off from.
The meteorite was identified by a CM carbonaceous chondrite. This type of stony meteorite contains a high proportion of elements that predate the solar systems.
It was recovered within 12 hours of landing by the UK Fireball Alliance. This organization aims to recover meteorites that have landed in the UK. The Earth’s atmosphere had little time to alter it.
Daly stated, “We know that everything in it is extraterrestrial.”
He explained that most CM chondrites contain ‘Earth-like water’ but that these rocks can alter and degrade in days or weeks after being on Earth. This could be because they have absorbed rainwater or something.
Natasha Almeida is the Natural History Museum’s curator for meteorites and co-author of the study. She said Wednesday that the “incredibly fresh specimen” will continue to be one of the best meteorites in the world.
Daly described the Winchcombe meteorite as a “lucky” discovery. The meteorite was about the same size as a basketball. If it traveled at a different speed or angle, it would have burned up. Daly said that the Winchcombe meteorite was a “lucky” find. He also noted that the UK cosmochemistry network was involved in the study of this rock.
Although this paper is only one of many publications on the meteorite, Daly stated that it will keep them busy for many years. He added that there are many secrets and stories in this unique stone.