NASA comet: Did rogue comets kick-start life on Earth? New study explores key clues

NASA comet: Did rogue comets kick-start life on Earth? New study explores key clues

zipping around the Sun are icy chunks of primordial rock from the earliest days of the solar system, 4.6 billion years ago. According to NASA, comets are just like “snowballs” of frozen rock, dust and ice barreling around the solar system. And as they fly around, comets will occasionally cross paths with planets and spectacularly collide. These terrifying collisions, NASA said, could be one of the reasons why Earth is such an incredibly wet planet thriving with a vast biodiversity of life.

In 2018, data collected by ’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) found “ocean-like” water on the distant Comet Wirtanen.

As the giant comet approached the Earth from a safe distance, scientists were given an opportunity to analyse the space rock’s surface.

The study has now led astronomers to believe comets could have frequently delivered water to Earth in the past.

Darek Lis, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “We have identified a vast reservoir of Earth-like water in the outer reaches of the solar system.

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“Water was crucial for the development of life as we know it.

“We not only want to understand how Earth's water was delivered, but also if this process could work in other planetary systems.”

More than 71 percent of our home planet’s surface is covered in water – vast oceans, seas, lakes and rivers, as well as frozen glaciers, underground aquifers and trapped moisture in the soil.

Water on the Earth is also widely present in the form of vapour and clouds.

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Our own bodies are about 60 percent water and as a result, the nourishing liquid is considered a critical building block of life.

One of the reasons why NASA is certain simple microbial life existed on Mars in the past is because the planet used to be much wetter than it is today.

NASA said; “Leftover debris remains in regions of our own solar system like the Kuiper Belt, beyond Neptune, or the Oort Cloud, far past Pluto.

“Comets come from these areas, but we can only see them when their orbits bring them closer to the Sun.”

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The Sun’s incredible heat causes the comets’ outer layers to melt and evaporate, leaving behind spectacular, glowing comas.

These comas are visible from Earth during a comet’s flyby.

NASA said: “Scientists predict that the water in Earth's oceans came from water-carrying bodies in the early solar system that collided with our planet, similar to today's ice-rich asteroids or comets.

“But scientists do not know where in the formative disk these objects originated.

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