Winchcombe meteorite that crashed into Earth solves the mystery of water on our planet
Researchers were able to quickly recover the meteorite, thanks to public reports and video footage of the fireball captured by 16 cameras coordinated by the UK Fireball Alliance.
Winchcombe contained 11 percent extra-terrestrial water
“The rapid retrieval and curation of Winchcombe make it one of the most pristine meteorites available for analysis, offering scientists a tantalizing glimpse back through time to the original composition of the solar system 4.6-billion-years-ago,” Dr. Ashley King of the Natural History Museum and author on the paper, said in a statement.
Winchcombe is a rare CM carbonaceous chondrite containing two percent carbon and is the first ever meteorite of this type to be found in the UK.
The team carried out detailed imaging and chemical analyzes and found that Winchcombe contained approximately 11 percent extra-terrestrial water by weight. Most of it is in minerals that formed during chemical reactions between fluids and rocks on its parent asteroid in the earliest stages of the solar system, as per the release.
When the team measured the ratio of hydrogen isotopes in the water, they found it to closely resemble the composition of water on Earth. Fragments of the meteorite also contained extra-terrestrial amino acids – prebiotic molecules – essential for the origin of life.