One of the hottest topics among scientists is the problem of the origin of water on Earth. Many think it was brought here by an asteroid impact, while others argue that it was present on our planet long before such events could happen. A team of researchers from Brown University wanted to see how practical the first theory could be, so they ran a few experiments to answer the question.
Two theories on the origin of water on Earth
This theory is based on the chemical composition of water, which is strikingly similar to some traces found on asteroids. Therefore, researchers decided to simulate an asteroid impact and see if it could have formed water. The experiments consisted of some meteorite projectiles that contained water, which were then shot at pieces of volcanic rock.
To achieve the desired effect, the projectiles needed to reach high speeds. Therefore, they used NASA’s high-speed cannon Vertical Gun Range. By tilting it at an appropriate angle, this turned into a small-scale asteroid impact that could have befallen our planet in its early stages.
The asteroid impact seems to have transferred water on our planet
Then, researchers took whatever was left of the volcanic rock and looked for traces of water. They found it, indeed, and 30 percent of it came from the asteroid pieces that merged with the volcanic rock. At the moment of the impact, this water must have turned into vapor, which then solidified into the resulting rocks.
This is not the first time when researchers explored the water-making procedure. Initially, they thought this water turned to vapor at the moment of the asteroid impact. Now, they proved the asteroid loses all the liquid indeed, but it gets transferred to the rock that receives the impact. This is interesting to know, as the same mechanism is common with other cosmic bodies as well.
The study on the asteroid impact was published in the journal Science Advances.
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