Asteroids could have delivered water to the early Earth | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Asteroids could have delivered water to the early Earth

The space rocks’ impacts wouldn’t have boiled all of their water away, study suggests

2:00pm, April 25, 2018
Asteroid hurtling toward Earth

INCOMING  Water vapor can be trapped in glass and melted rocks that are created by an asteroid impact. The finding boosts the idea that asteroids brought water to the early Earth.

Shooting small rocks from a high-speed cannon showed that some asteroids could have brought water to the early Earth — without all the water boiling away on impact, a new study finds.

“We can’t bring an asteroid to Earth and crash it into the Earth, bad things would happen,” says planetary geologist R. Terik Daly, who did the research while a graduate student at Brown University in Providence, R.I. “So we went into the lab and tried to re-create the event as best we can.”

After the solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago, Earth grew up relatively close to the sun, where it was too hot for water to condense out of the gas phase. And Earth was too small to hold on to much nearby gas anyway. So scientists think the pale blue dot may have received its water from somewhere else — although exactly how that happened is still up for debate (SN:

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content