A meteorite has been retrieved in the UK for the first time in 30 years after falling on the driveway of a property in Gloucestershire.
Water is a mystery to science. How did the oceans on Earth form? Does water exist on other planets? Some of these concerns could be addressed by space travel, while others may be brought crashing down to Earth by cosmic inspiration. Answers are already available thanks to the Whinchcombe meteorite, which landed in Gloucestershire, England in 2021 after passing through Earth's atmosphere. It includes organic substances and extraterrestrial water that provide information on the genesis of Earth's seas.
A piece of 4.6 billion-year-old space rock is a meteorite. It most likely got loose from an asteroid near Jupiter recently and came to Earth. 16 cameras working in tandem with the UK Fireball Alliance recorded the fiery crash landing on a Gloucestershire property (UKFAll), according to My Modern Met.
The meteorite was easily recovered and preserved for future research by scientists. Science Advances has published its findings. Surprisingly, the meteorite is a rare CM carbonaceous chondrite. It is the first of its kind to fall in the UK and contains about 2% of carbon by weight. Based on a chemical examination, the meteorite contains 11% extraterrestrial water. The hydrogen isotope ratio resembles that of the water on our planet. The water is bonded in compounds that were generated close to the solar system's beginning, not in the rock itself, which is devoid of any liquid. Additionally, there are extraterrestrial amino acids in the meteorite. These prebiotic substances are necessary for life. These results support the theory put out by scientists that carbonaceous asteroids brought some of the building blocks of life to Earth.
Among the many cool things that I got to see @NHM_London was the pavement struck by the Winchcombe meteorite, as well as a large fragment of the meteorite itself! 😮 Winchcombe, a CM2 chondrite, is an important discovery in many aspects: https://t.co/i22hNHwabI https://t.co/Se9Np8xKKr pic.twitter.com/lXU8Zy2EVO— Trygve Prestgard (@TrygvePrestgard) October 8, 2022
In a statement, the paper's author, Dr. Luke Daly of the University of Glasgow's Planetary Geoscience, claims: “One of the biggest questions asked of the scientific community is how did we get here? This analysis of the Winchcombe meteorite gives insight into how the Earth came to have water–the source of so much life. Researchers will continue to work on this specimen for years to come, unlocking more secrets into the origins of our solar system.” Dr. Ashley King, a writer and employee of the Natural History Museum, adds: “The rapid retrieval and curation of Winchcombe make it one of the most pristine meteorites available for analysis, offering scientists a tantalizing glimpse back through time to the original composition of the solar system 4.6 billion-years-ago.”
As per Live Science, the young Earth was a desolate and hostile planet because no ice could survive evaporation past a specific point known as the frost line. When a flurry of ice asteroids from the outer solar system transported frozen water to our planet to dissolve, scientists believe this altered when Earth cooled. Moreover, the meteorite was found to have originated from an asteroid in orbit around Jupiter and had 11% water by mass after being roasted, polished, and subjected to X-ray and laser bombardment to investigate the minerals and elements inside. Normal hydrogen and the hydrogen isotope deuterium, which is what is referred to as "heavy water," were both present in the asteroid's water.
The researchers discovered that the proportion of hydrogen to deuterium in the meteorite water matched the proportion found in water on Earth, strongly suggesting that the two types of water originated from the same source. The building blocks of proteins and subsequently life, amino acids, were also discovered inside the rock. Scientists may also examine additional space rocks drifting around the solar system, such as the asteroid Ryugu, which has also been discovered to have the components of life, to further this research. A thorough examination of the space rocks in the solar system could help researchers understand more about the origins of the boulders that sowed the early Earth.