Scientists have discovered, for the first time, liquid water inside a meteorite from the earliest days of the solar system.
Although it has long been assumed that water can be preserved in meteorites known as carbonaceous chondrites, this is the first time that a real liquid has been found inside a meteorite.
The discovery was made in fragments of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite, a 4.6 billion-year-old space rock that fell to Earth and landed in the United States in 2012.
Senior study author Akira Tsuchiyama of Ritsumeikan University in Japan and his colleagues used microscopy techniques to reveal carbon dioxide-rich fluid inside the tiny calcite crystal.
“This achievement shows that our team was able to detect a tiny liquid trapped in the mineral 4.6 billion years ago,” Tsuchiyama said.
This discovery is particularly important because, because of the age of the meteorite, it can provide clues about conditions that existed in the earliest days of our solar system.
Scientists believe that this particular space rock formed somewhere outside of Jupiter’s orbit.
The water inside the rock may also point to the original source of Earth’s oceans.
In fact, it may be the “grandparents” of all water on Earth.