Research suggests Sun is likely a good unaccounted source of the Earth’s water

“Astronauts may be able to process fresh supplies of water straight from the particular dust on a planet’s surface area, such as the Moon, ” says researcher

Curtin College researchers have helped unravel the enduring mystery from the origins of the Earth’s drinking water, finding the Sun to be a amazing likely source.

A University associated with Glasgow-led international team of researchers including those from Curtin’s Space Science plus Technology Center (SSTC) found the solar wind, comprised of charged particles from the Sun largely made of hydrogen ions, created  water   on the surface of dust grains carried on asteroids that will smashed into the Earth throughout the early days of the Solar Program.

SSTC Movie director, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland said the Earth was very water-rich compared to other rocky planets within the Solar System, with seas covering more than 70 % of its surface, and researchers had long puzzled over the exact source of it all.

“ An existing theory is that water was transported to Earth in the last stages of its formation on C-type asteroids, however previous testing of the isotopic ‘ fingerprint’ of these asteroids found they, on average, didn’t match with the water found on Earth which means there was at least one other unaccounted for source, ” Professor Bland said.

“ Our research suggests the solar wind developed water on the surface of small dust grains and this isotopically lighter water likely supplied the remainder of the Earth’s water.

“ This particular new  solar blowing wind   theory is based on meticulous atom-by-atom analysis associated with miniscule fragments of an S-type near-Earth asteroid known as Itokawa, samples of which were collected by Japanese space probe Hayabusa and returned to World in 2010.

“ Our world-class atom probe tomography system here at Curtin University allowed us to consider an incredibly detailed look within the first 50 nanometres or so of the surface of Itokawa dust grains, which we all found contained enough water that, if scaled up, would amount to about 20 liters for every cubic meter of rock. ”

Curtin graduate Dr . Luke Daly, now from the University of Glasgow, mentioned the research not only gives researchers a remarkable insight into the past way to obtain Earth’s water, but could also help future space missions.

“ Just how astronauts would get sufficient water, without carrying supplies, is one of the barriers of future area exploration, ” Dr . Daly said.

“ Our research shows that the same  space   weathering process which usually created water on Itokawa likely occurred on additional airless planets, meaning astronauts may be able to process fresh supplies of water straight from the particular dust on a planet’s  surface , such as the Moon. ”

The paper, “ Solar breeze Contributions to the Earth’s Seas, ” was published in  Nature Astronomy .

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