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Image depicting 4.6 billion years old meteorite reexamines Earth's water origins!

4.6 billion years old meteorite reexamines Earth’s water origins!


Recommended for Middle Grades

An old meteorite could help scientists figure out how water came to be on Earth.  The space rock hit the driveway of a family home in a town in England.

What is a meteorite?

Meteorites are solid pieces of debris from space objects that make it through the atmosphere and land on the surface of a planet.

Curious Components of the Meteorite!

  • The water in the meteorite is made up of chemicals that are very similar to the chemicals that make up water on Earth.
  • In addition, the rock is 4.6 billion years old which means it was around when the sun and planets were first formed.
  • This space rock is rare as it has a lot of carbon in it.
  • Also, it was picked up just a few hours after it hit the ground.
  • Because of this, it is one of the cleanest meteorites that can be used for research.
  • The scientist’s research shows that 11% of the meteorite’s mass was made up of heavy water (an isotope of hydrogen). 
  • The ratio of hydrogen to heavy water in the meteorite’s water was the same as the ratio in water on Earth. 
  • This is strong proof that the water in the meteorite and the water on Earth came from the same place.
  • The rock contained amino acids. Amino acids make up proteins, life’s building blocks.

Key facts!

  • When the rocky planets near the centre of our solar system first came together, they were too close to our star for oceans to form.
  • This happened when the planets were made out of hot clouds of gas and dust that blew around the sun.
  • Because there was no way for ice to stay frozen after it reached a certain point called the “frost line.”
  • The young Earth was empty and dangerous.
  • Scientists think this changed when the Earth got cooler.
  • This is when icy asteroids from the edge of the solar system hit our planet and brought frozen water to melt.
  • Also, the water came from outer space.
  • A renewed analysis of the 4.6 billion years old meteorite has provided weight to this notion.
  • In the years to come, researchers will continue their study on this species in the hopes of uncovering even more mysteries regarding the beginnings of our solar system.
  • A detailed analysis of space rocks throughout the solar system may help scientists comprehend the space rocks that contributed to early Earth’s origins.

Youtube user “Learn Bright” explains the fundamental idea of meteorites.

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