A piece of space debris known as the Winchcombe meteorite hit a driveway in Gloucestershire in February 2021. Scientists have analyzed the rare meteorite using detailed imaging and chemical analysis. The composition of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago, according to research author Dr. Ashley King of the Museum of Natural History.
Meteor hits British town supports theory of Earth’s water https://t.co/iNCnNbAZOi
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) November 17, 2022
Luckily, researchers were able to examine the meteorite just days after it hit Earth, before it was contaminated with terrestrial elements. Featuring an estimated 2% carbon by weight, it is a rare meteorite and is the first of its kind to be found in the UK. Meteorites contain 11% extraterrestrial water in mineral form. Water was formed by liquids and rocks undergoing chemical reactions on meteorite-created asteroids during the early beginnings of the solar system.
Great Ball of Fire!
Scientists have discovered that hydrogen isotopes in space matter are similar to those in water on Earth. Researchers have also found amino acids in the object, the central prebiotic molecules for creating life. Meteorites were largely unaffected by landings on Earth, and carbonaceous asteroids are thought to have played a role in introducing the elements necessary for the creation of oceans and life on Earth.
The UK Fireball Alliance has recorded video footage of the meteorite fireball. The footage, combined with chemical analysis, shows that it took about a million years for the meteorite to land on Earth after leaving an asteroid near Jupiter. It first moved around the Sun in what is known as a preatmospheric orbit, a rarity for meteorites found on Earth. Only 0.1% of Earth’s meteorite collection features pre-atmospheric orbits. As a result, the Winchcombe meteorite provides the strongest link yet between carbonaceous meteorites and outer solar system asteroids.
Researchers will study the meteorite over the years to uncover more answers about the origin of the solar system. How life began on Earth is one of science’s greatest questions, says study co-author Dr. Luke Daley, Lecturer in Planetary Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow. The meteorite is important because it “provides insight into how the Earth came to have water, the source of so much life.”
Rapid recovery of the meteorite by the scientific community was critical to maintaining its integrity. “The combination of such rapid recovery, careful collection, and Winchcombe’s continued curation in a nitrogen atmosphere has made this incredibly fresh specimen one of the most pristine meteorites in any collection worldwide. It means staying one,” commented study co-author Dr. Natasha Almeida. Meteorite curator at the Natural History Museum.
Samples of the Winchcombe meteorite can be seen at several locations in England: Natural History Museum, Winchcombe Museum, Wilson (art gallery), Cheltenham.If you want to see meteorites in America, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Touch the £3,197 thing!
Ripleys.com contributor Noelle Talmon
Experience ODD in action!