Skip to comments.Water Found In Meteorite
Posted on 01/25/2006 8:52:11 PM PST by blam
Water found in meteorite
Tiny bubbles are caught in the water
Scientists have made the first discovery of liquid water in a meteorite. The space rock was recovered by a group of boys in a small Texas town who saw it fall out of the sky in 1998.
Specimens taken to Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston were subjected to tests by Michael Zolensky and his colleagues. When they cracked open the rock they found tiny, purple spots of halite - crystals of sodium chloride, or table salt - along with minute amounts of briny water.
Others who have looked at the research, which is published in the journal Science, and have satisfied themselves that the rock was not contaminated when it fell to Earth, describe the discovery as "astonishing".
On Earth, halite generally forms when large areas of water evaporate. What this discovery suggests is that water was also flowing on the asteroid from which the meteorite came.
Either that, or the water was carried onto the asteroid by a comet or some other object carrying water.
Early Solar System
The rock is from what are called Chondrite meteorites, which are assumed to contain some of the most primitive materials from the early solar system.
The discovery of water inside the Texas rock should, therefore, shed new light on the conditions in the primordial solar nebula. This was the hot disk of dust and gas, with a protosun at the centre, from which the Earth and the other planets around us were believed to have formed, 4.5 billion years ago.
The meteorite was big news when it fell on the town of Monahans in west Texas on 22 March 1998.
The pieces were the subject of an ownership dispute with one specimen eventually auctioned for $23,000.
Further tests on the meteorite water will look for any trace elements. There will also be an examination of the different types (isotopes) of hydrogen and oxygen atoms that make up the water.
I imagine it will be quite costly when bottled.
More proof that the asteroid belt started out as a planet?
That's what I thought, too! I read Immanuel Velikovsky's "Worlds in Collision" decades ago, and ever since then it made sense that a planet breakup formed the asteroid belt.
Actually, most serious astronomers note that during the early history of our solar system, there were actually quite a few more planets than now. But collisions between these smaller planets during that early time not only shaped our own Earth, but possibly Venus, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Mercury may be a case of a planet that while suffering smaller meteor impacts never had an impact with another proto-planet like Earth probably did.
This will be very "telling"!
A model of early solar system formation (and there is evidence supporting such) describes that metal, such as Nickel-iron, rock, and ice condensed out from the accretion disk created as our solar system formed. The metals condensed out first (this is why many of the asteroids are Nickel-iron) Followed by rocky material and ice. These tiny particles then collided creating small boulders and asteroids.
Once these small asteroids and boulders have enough mass, gravity becomes the driving force. Thusly the planets and moons are formed. However, since Jupiter is so large and the total mass of the asteroid belt is so tiny, the material forming the asteroid belt never was "allowed" to form a small planet or moon because of the gravitational perturbations from Jupiter. Remember the asteroid belt has less mass than 1 tenth of our moon.
Finally the solar wind from the newly formed star (our sun) would blow all of the remaining gas into interstellar space leaving us with the planets, moons, comets, asteroids, etc. circling our little star.
Note: This is a really simplified version. There is much (volumes of data) I did not include.
Jupiter has a profound effect on the asteroid belt.
Since Jupiter has a semimajor axis of 5.2 AU (I AU is the distance from the Sun to the Earth) it ends up with an orbital period of 11.86 years. Also, since the asteroids are not all at the same distance from the sun, their orbital periods differ in a direct relationship to their distance from the sun. This results in some of them having an orbital period of one half of Jupiter. This puts those particular asteroids in a 2:1 orbital resonance with Jupiter. The result of this resonance is gaps called Kirkwoods gaps.
The rub is why did not this asteroid belt form a small planet? The reason is the gravitational force of Jupiter. It perturbs the asteroids giving them random velocities relative to each other.
Another effect of both Jupiter and the Sun on the asteroid belt is a group of asteroids that both precede and follow Jupiter in its orbit by 60 degrees. These asteroids are known as the Trojans.
This is an old article. The results should already be known.
What are the chances that this is a piece of Earth that was "splashed" into orbit by an ancient asteroidal impact, and finally its orbit brought it back?
Enough velocity to escape, but oribital elements tying it to the earth-moon gravitational system?
Agreed. Did not notice that. Will look into it.
Entire article here.
Lots of ice out there. However, the isotope ratios will give us a clue. Since this is over 7 years old now, I will try to find out.
See post 13. :-)
I wonder how much it's worth now.
"I popped the halite in the machine and got this amazing peak showing an abundance of xenon-129. That told us immediately it wasn't terrestrial material. I hadn't really expected that, so it was quite stunning, really," said Whitby.
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