London, Nov 29 (EFE) .- The appearance of water on Earth could have its origin in the Sun, as proposed by a new theory developed by an international team of experts published this Monday in the journal Nature.
The research, led by the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) and Curtin University (Australia), is based on the discovery of water in samples from the surface of the “S” type asteroid Itokawa, captured by the Japanese probe Hayabusa2 and brought to Earth in 2010.
Subsequent studies have suggested that impacts early in Earth’s history by similar asteroids could have generated up to half the water in our planet’s oceans, although it was not clear what the original source was.
“An existing theory indicates that the water reached Earth in its last stages of formation in type ‘C’ asteroids, but previous tests of the isotopic ‘footprint’ of these asteroids showed that, on average, they did not coincide with that of the water. found on Earth, which means there was at least one other unknown source, “said Phil Bland of Curtin University in a statement.
This new work, says the expert, suggests that solar winds “created water on the surface” of “tiny dust grains” carried by asteroids such as Itokawa, a type of water “lighter, from an isotopic point of view, than probably it provided the rest of the Earth’s water. “
“Our innovative study system has allowed us to analyze in a very detailed way the interior of the first 50 nanometers of the surface of the Itokawa dust grains, which contained enough water that, at scale, it would be equivalent to about 20 liters per cubic meter. of rock “, emphasizes Bland.
Not only does this work provide insights into the origin of water on Earth, it could also contribute to the success of future space missions, says Luke Daly of Curtin University.
“It is highly probable,” he observes, “that the same process that created water on Itokawa occurred on other airless planets, which means that astronauts might be able to process supplies of drinking water directly from the dust on a planetary surface, such as that of the Earth. Moon”.
Itokawa, a peanut-shaped asteroid roughly 550 meters long and about 300 meters wide, orbits the Sun every 18 months at an average distance of 1.3 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.