Science

Scientists bombard fake water-containing asteroids on a fake earth to study how water came to Earth

Many scientists believe that water on Earth came due to an asteroid or a meteorite impact but there is no strong evidence about this hypothesis. That is why the latest study involved an experiment in which scientists blasted artificial asteroids on an artificial earth. For the experiment, the scientists used NASA’s high-speed projectile cannon.

The main aim of the experiment was to know how asteroid impacts could have brought water to Earth. So basically, the scientists were trying to study how the impacts of water-rich asteroids could have delivered surprising amounts of water to planetary bodies. The latest study could throw some light on how water came to earth. The research was carried out by a group of researchers at the Brown University.

Terik Daly, a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University who led the research while completing his Ph.D. at Brown University, said that the origin and transportation of water and volatiles is one of the big questions in planetary science. These experiments reveal a mechanism by which asteroids could deliver water to moons, planets and other asteroids. It’s a process that started while the solar system was forming and continues to operate today, “explained Daly. The scientists say that when they studied different impact models, they found out that the asteroids should completely get devoid of water once they enter a planet’s atmosphere and get burned up.

Co-author of the study Peter Schultz, a professor in Brown’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences said, “Impact models tell us that asteroids should completely devolatilize at many of the impacts speeds common in the solar system, meaning all the water they contain just boils off in the heat of the impact. But nature has a tendency to be more interesting than our models, which is why we need to do experiments.”

So to get a more conclusive evidence of the impacts of water-rich asteroids on planetary bodies, the scientists conducted this high-powered projectile cannon experiment. The scientists used NASA’s Vertical Gun Range at the Ames Research Center in California, to make their asteroid cannon. They made marble-size cylinders of antigorite as their artificial water-carrying asteroid and bombarded them into fake Earth consisting of a tray of dry, powdered pumice at speeds more than 11,200 mph. They found out that the debris had more water than the impact models had indicated.

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