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Scientists Say the Sun Could Be the Unknown Source of Earth's Unexplained Water


Earth is the bluest planet in our Solar System, and yet no one knows for certain where all our water came from.


However, a nearby asteroid's dust has revealed a previously unknown source: the Sun.


The water on our planet appears to have been formed by a river of charged particles blown from the Sun's upper atmosphere billions of years ago, according to some theories.


As a result of the interaction between the solar wind and the tiny dust particles found on certain asteroids, a small amount of water is produced, which may account for some of the liquid found on our planet.


According to the vast majority of contemporary models, the vast majority of H20 on Earth originated in space, possibly from C-type asteroids in the Jupiter-Saturn region and beyond.


It is believed that these far-off asteroids are the parent bodies of the carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that crash into the Earth on a regular basis, and this particular type of meteorite has been discovered to contain a significant amount of water-containing minerals.


Carbonaceous chondrites, on the other hand, are unlikely to be the only source of water on the planet. Other types of water-rich meteorites may have behaved in a similar manner, especially given the fact that carbonaceous chondrites cannot account for the entirety of the Earth's water budget (see Figure 1).


Other types of chondrite asteroids, albeit to a lesser extent, may have contained water particles as well, according to the findings. To give an example, the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa is a typical chondrite, and in 2010, an analysis of samples taken from this silicate-rich rock revealed evidence of water originating from the Sun, indicating that the source of the water was most likely the Sun.


Before now, it has been suggested that solar wind irradiation could be a possible mechanism for the formation of water on silicate-rich materials floating around in outer space.


Researchers have demonstrated in the laboratory that volatile hydrogen ions react with silicate minerals, resulting in the formation of water as a byproduct, and electron microscopy and electron spectroscopy studies have previously discovered direct evidence of H20 within extraterrestrial dust particles, according to NASA.


According to theory, if water becomes trapped within these dust particles, it will be protected from space weathering and will be able to be transported to other bodies in space via meteorites.


For example, "This could explain why regoliths from airless worlds like Earth and Mars contain several percent H20, despite the fact that they were previously believed to be anhydrous," according to the authors of the new study.


Researchers examined the S-type asteroid Itokawa in order to determine whether it contains a 'volatile reservoir' of isotypes similar to those found in solar wind. This was done in order to test the hypothesis in a more detailed and slightly different way.


While the vast majority of Earth's water isotypes match carbonaceous chondrites, a small percentage do not, and the Sun or solar nebula have been proposed as possible sources for these water isotypes to have originated.


Scientists have now determined the amount of water contained in the dust from the Itokawa asteroid, which was returned to Earth in 2011 by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) (JAXA).


The team discovered that the rims on all sides of the particles were enriched in hydroxide and water after measuring all around the particles, including those that were hidden from the Sun. In this case, the hydrogen ions from the Sun were 'implanted' into the rock, thereby storing water in an inaccessible location.


They were discovered at a depth consistent with what scientists would expect from hydrogen ions penetrating silicate materials, which is a significant depth for life-sustaining elements.


In a statement, planetary scientist Phil Bland of Curtin University in Australia said, "Our research indicates that the solar wind deposited water on the surface of microscopic dust grains, and that this isotopically lighter water accounted for the remainder of the Earth's water."


S-type asteroids have the potential to hold up to 20 liters of water per cubic meter of rock, according to the amount of water found in these microscopic dust particles discovered by the research team.


According to the findings, isolated grains of dust in space may represent a significant source of water in our Solar System – one that we may be able to harvest in the future if we collect enough of them in the near future.


In a statement, geoscientist Luke Daly of Curtin University, who was involved in the analysis, said, "How astronauts would obtain sufficient water without carrying supplies is one of the barriers to future space exploration."


'Our research indicates that the same space weathering process that produced water on Itokawa most likely occurred on other airless planets, raising the possibility that astronauts may be able to extract fresh water directly from planetary dust, such as that on the Moon, in the future.'


The Sun has the potential to provide us with life in a variety of ways.

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