Some 4.5 billion years ago, the swirl of gas and dust around the Sun formed planet Earth.
In the beginning, our planet was dry.
The bodies of flowing water that make Earth unique amongst other planets in the Solar System had not yet formed. And till today, scientists aren’t exactly sure how water got to planet Earth in the first place.
A new study aims to resolve this longstanding mystery by looking at the composition of meteorites. The results suggest these rocky visitors may have carried water along with them on their journey to Earth.
The study was published Thursday in the journal Science.
According to models of the Solar System, the Earth should be a dry planet, which means it would have likely been devoid of life. But the presence of oceans and seas — and life — has left scientists questioning where this water originated.
Previous research suggested water was delivered to the Earth by way of the asteroids and meteorites that crashed into the planet during its early, chaotic history. But other theories suggested the water was her all along, hidden in the very rocks that formed the planet.
The team of researchers behind the new study looked at samples of enstatite chondrite meteorites, a rare form of meteorite believed to have been forged from the nebula that birthed the Solar System.