We’re big astronomy dorks here at The Ski Channel, so we found this news awesome!
For the first time ever, water molecules (and organic molecules) have been found on an asteroid. Why is this a big deal? Well, it may give us a hint as to where our planet’s water supply came from. This finding suggests that way back when, asteroids with ice on them collided with the earth, giving us our initial water supply.
“What we’ve found suggests that an asteroid like this one may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water,” said astronomer Humberto Campins of the University of Central Florida.
“The more we find in our asteroid belt objects that do have water, the more convinced we are that that was a possible process to rehydrate the earth,” said NASA astrobiologist Mary Voytek.
“The ice that we see there, right now, is sort of related to the ice that could have come from the main asteroid belt that hit us about 4 billion years ago,” astronomer Henry Hsieh of Queen’s University Belfast told NPR. “It gives us a way to kind of probe the cousins of the asteroids that hit us and probably gave us water in the early stages of the Earth’s formation.”
This discovery of water adds to the recent discoveries of water beneath the surface of Mars and at the moon’s north pole.
As far as how the asteroid retains water, we still don’t know, We used to think they were too warm to house water.
Apparently we were wrong…
Image credit: Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA