Solar System Ice: Source of Earth’s Water

Solar System Ice: Source of Earth’s Water

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Scientists have long believed that comets and, or a type of very primitive meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites were the sources of early Earth’s volatile elements — which include hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon — and possibly organic material, too. Understanding where these volatiles came from is crucial for determining the origins of both water and life on the planet.

New research led by Carnegie’s Conel Alexander focuses on frozen water that was distributed throughout much of the early Solar System, but probably not in the materials that aggregated to initially form Earth. The evidence for this ice is now preserved in objects like comets and water-bearing carbonaceous chondrites. The team’s findings contradict prevailing theories about the relationship between these two types of bodies and suggest that meteorites, and their parent asteroids, are the most-likely sources of Earth’s water. Their work was published by Science Express.

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