A rare meteorite that landed in the UK in 2021, after a journey of nearly 300,000 years, contains: extraterrestrial water and the essential ingredients forhe is DNA.
meteorite The Winchcombe was the first of its kind to be recovered in the UK, when it hit its namesake Gloucestershire town in 2021. Rapid collection by the public and scientists has ensured it is preserved in an almost pristine condition, allowing researchers to investigate material that has been removed from Outer Space.
The new study, published in the journal Science Advances, supports the suggestion that meteorites brought important molecules to Earth that helped pave the way for the evolution of life, Proces said.
Dr. Ashley King, who co-led the study and is an expert on meteorites at the Natural History Museum (NHM), commented in a statement: The Winchcombe meteorite is incredibly well-preserved and contains all the ingredients that could begin to create a suitable environment. for life to develop within it.”
“The composition of its waters, on the basis of hydrogen isotopes, is very similar to what we see in the Earth’s oceans, while within it there are also amino acids, which are used to build DNA.”
“We know it wasn’t contaminated, so this research adds weight to theories that carbonaceous asteroids were important in bringing these particles to Earth after it formed.”
For millions of years, the meteorite was part of a larger asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. It shows evidence of exposure to the sun’s solar wind, indicating that it spent some of that time on the asteroid’s surface.
We found that it didn’t pass particularly close to the Sun compared to other asteroids, and that it’s only been traveling for 300,000 years, which is really fast,” explains Ashley.
“However, because Winchcombe is a really fragile type of meteorite known as a carbonaceous chondrite, it won’t make it to Earth if it doesn’t get there quickly, and it will either fall into the sun or break apart.”
Most of its mass burned up as it passed through the atmosphere, fragmenting it into pieces that fell upon the town of Wyncombe and its environs. About a pound of the meteorite was eventually recovered, which is close to the estimated mass of the fragments that were supposed to survive.
“We’ve been lucky with Winchcombe in many ways,” Ashley adds. “The UK should expect two or three small meteorites each year, but these often land somewhere they can’t get to.”
The fact that it fell on a very clear night, and in a camera-monitored area, allowed us to quickly locate it. It was also a dry week, which ensured he could pack up quickly without being too disturbed by Earth’s atmosphere.”
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