Shocking! Asteroid strikes brought water on Mars, says study

    A new study has revealed that the water on Mars may not be indigenous and could have been brought to the planet through a series of asteroid strikes.
    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Nov 23 2022, 11:43 IST
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    Asteroid and Earth
    1/5 Space is full of objects, out of which only a few have been discovered. Asteroids are some of these objects. If you are not aware about the dangerous objects called asteroids, here are some facts you should know. First, did you know that asteroids are sometimes called minor planets? Well, they are. (Pixabay)
    Asteroid
    2/5 Differences between an Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite: According to the information provided by NASA, Asteroid is a relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Comet is a relatively small, at times active, object whose ice can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas. Meteoroid is a small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun. Meteor is the light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes, in short, a shooting star. While, Meteorite is a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and lands upon the Earth's surface. (NASA)
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    3/5 Asteroid: Size, frequency and impact- More than 100 tons of dust and sand sized particles are bombarded towards Earth everyday, according to NASA. While, about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface. Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area. Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences. Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage. By comparison, asteroids that populate the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and pose no threat to Earth, can be as big as 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. (NASA)
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    4/5 How is an Asteroid Orbit Calculated? An asteroid's orbit is computed by finding the elliptical path about the sun that best fits the available observations of the object. That is, the object's computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was actually observed to be at those same times. (Pixabay)
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    5/5 What is NASA doing to find and learn more about potentially hazardous asteroids and comets? NASA has established a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), managed in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The PDCO ensures the early detection of potentially hazardous objects (PHOs) - asteroids and comets whose orbits are predicted to bring them within 0.05 Astronomical Units of Earth (5 million miles or 8 million kilometers) and of a size large enough to reach Earth's surface - that is, greater than approximately 30 to 50 meters. NASA tracks and characterizes these objects and issues warnings about potential impacts, providing timely and accurate information. NASA also leads the coordination of U.S. Government planning for response to an actual impact threat. (AFP)
    Asteroid
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    What role did asteroids play in the origin of water on Mars? Find out what this study says. (Pixabay)

    As scientists have been exploring Mars through the amazing technology onboard the NASA Curiosity Rover, the belief that asteroids and meteorites played a big role in the planet's development is getting stronger. While conclusive evidence for these suggestions have not been found yet, many studies have come out highlighting how the existing evidence points towards extraterrestrial evolution. A study released earlier this year claimed that life on Mars could have begun due to asteroids that brought primitive unicellular organisms to the red planet. And now, a new study has shockingly claimed that even the water on the planet was delivered through a series of asteroid strikes.

    The study was published in the Science Advances journal and focused on the crust of Mars to identify whether the existence of water was native or had extraterrestrial roots. The basis of this hypothesis is analysis of 31 space rocks from Mars that have been discovered on Earth. These were water-rich carbonaceous asteroids which were probably large enough to fill out a large lake.

    Asteroid strikes could have brought water to Mars

    The study suggests that the water was present on the asteroids as solid ice. But once it struck the red planet, enough heat was released to instantly melt the ice and create water. If multiple such asteroids would impact Mars, it could be the primary source of water by creating a global ocean about 300 meters deep. But the theory does not stop there. It also suggests that water on Earth could have been brought here the same way.

    But sadly this postulate cannot be investigated further. “The observation that water-rich asteroids bombarded Mars means that there may also have been a contribution to Earth, but this is difficult to quantify. Unlike Mars, Earth has plate tectonics and the early record of our planet's history has been erased,” Martin Bizzarro, a cosmochemist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and a co-author on the new research, told Space.com.

    But Mars is different because it retains its historic crust even today. And that's why scientists were able to conduct tests to verify their claims. Surprisingly, they found abundances of chromium-54 and chromium-53 on the crust of Mars, constituents which closely resemble a meteorite called Renazzo. This meteorite contained about 10 percent of its body-weight in water. While it is still not enough to be conclusive, it does open up new possibilities for Mars, and maybe for even Earth.

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    First Published Date: 23 Nov, 11:37 IST
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