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Earth's water didn't come from comets


Posted on Saturday, 13 December, 2014 | Comment icon 31 comments

Comets may not have brought water to the Earth as was previously thought. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
Rosetta has discovered that the water on comet 67P is different to the water that we have here on Earth.
The theory that Earth's water was deposited here by comets has hit a setback this week after it was revealed that the water present on comet 67P contains more than three times more deuterium, a heavy form of hydrogen, than the water found here on Earth.

This difference suggests that our water didn't arrive here on comets after all, opening up the possibility that it was instead deposited by water-bearing asteroids during our planet's early history.
"In the earliest period of the solar system, 3.8bn years ago, asteroids are thought to have crashed into Earth regularly in what is called the late heavy bombardment," said Professor Kathrin Altwegg.

"At that time, asteroids could well have had much more water than they have today."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (31)


Tags: Rosetta, Comet, Water


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #22 Posted by Merc14 on 15 December, 2014, 3:11
Naturally, it would be well to have more data on inner system comets. However, asteroids, as a group, and comets from the Oort cloud, taken collectively, each have a different, characteristic range of deuterium ratios. It appears likely that this is the case for inner system comets as well. Given the high deuterium ratio in comet 67P C-G, it seems likely that this range will fall well above that for Earth. Bison,could swinging through the solar system drastically change the isotope levels of cometary water?
Comment icon #23 Posted by bison on 15 December, 2014, 17:03
Bison,could swinging through the solar system drastically change the isotope levels of cometary water? Generally speaking, probably not. Most objects from the inner part of the solar system, such as Earth, other planets and asteroids tend to have low deuterium ratios. This suggests that there is little dispersed deuterium that a comet could gather, as it passed through this space. It looks as though deuterium is enhanced within the Kuiper belt, and that object originating there reflect this. If a comet originating in the Kuiper Belt, and one from the Oort cloud collided, the deuterium ratio wo... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by gailforce on 20 December, 2014, 18:22
so big deal they started saying that it didnt come from comets like 5 years back get with it, meteorites are all the range now
Comment icon #25 Posted by skookum on 21 December, 2014, 22:28
I'm a traditional evolutionist. But it was always hard for me to believe that the oceans were basically filled by comits. Come up with something better than that. I just couldn't get my head round the shear number of comets there would have to be considering how much water is in the oceans. It would be mind boggling.
Comment icon #26 Posted by Atuke on 21 December, 2014, 23:14
I just couldn't get my head round the shear number of comets there would have to be considering how much water is in the oceans. It would be mind boggling. Exactly. Even a lake the size of Lake Erie would be mind boggling to be filled by comets. And of course I understand eons of time and chemical reactions led to more water in the atmosphere and a chain reaction of these events caused the ocean levels to be at the level they are now. But comets? Lol
Comment icon #27 Posted by skookum on 22 December, 2014, 17:11
Exactly. Even a lake the size of Lake Erie would be mind boggling to be filled by comets. And of course I understand eons of time and chemical reactions led to more water in the atmosphere and a chain reaction of these events caused the ocean levels to be at the level they are now. But comets? Lol I am trying to imagine an early solar system with millions of massive comets during its creation. However the Earth is still a moving target, these comets must have been massive to cover two thirds of the planet with water many miles deep in places. Then you have the Arctic and Antarctic with the lat... [More]
Comment icon #28 Posted by Merc14 on 22 December, 2014, 17:18
I am trying to imagine an early solar system with millions of massive comets during its creation. However the Earth is still a moving target, these comets must have been massive to cover two thirds of the planet with water many miles deep in places. Then you have the Arctic and Antarctic with the later having frozen water miles deep. Let's not forget that the current theory is there is more water in earth's interior than in all the oceans combined. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/16/study-deep-beneath-north-america-theres-more-water-than-in-all-the-oceans-combined/
Comment icon #29 Posted by bison on 22 December, 2014, 17:31
To put the volume of all Earth's water in perspective, consider the illustration, linked below. I suspect that comets, falling in over a very, very long period of time could have done the job of supplying it, including whatever proportion of water is contained inside the Earth. It's just that the isotopic ratio of deuterium in comets doesn't connect them with Earth's water. Icy asteroids, and their small cousins, meteoroids, seem a likelier source. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/gallery/global-water-volume.html
Comment icon #30 Posted by DieChecker on 22 December, 2014, 23:49
To those saying the comet origin of Earth's oceans is impossible..... There is more water on the moon of Jupiter, Europa, then there is on Earth. This tells me that water was very available in the early solar system, and potentially if even just one "watery" moon crashed into Earth, we'd have the oceans we have today. Perhaps the object that created the Moon brought in a lot of water? My point is that if even one moon of one Gas Giant has more water then Earth, it is entirely possible that large icy objects DID bring the ocean's water to Earth. The hundreds of thousands of comets needed is bas... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by DONTEATUS on 23 December, 2014, 22:55
Maybe "Ceres" can support Life ?


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