The finding of a new study published in the Science journal shed new light on the source of water on our planet. It is now being said that water probably came to the inner solar system much earlier than was earlier estimated by the scientists. Though our solar system is almost 4.6 billion years old, water appeared here much later- 8 to 10 million years after the planet was born. Now if that is true, it means that water appeared on Earth more than a hundred million years earlier than was previously believed.

A team of researchers from University of Bristol, University of New Mexico and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Massachusetts and American Museum of Natural History, led by Adam Sarafian, a PhD candidate at MIT, came to these conclusions after examining the remains of asteroids from Vesta.

“All the planets could have gotten their water very early, which means the planets could have been habitable immediately after they formed,” a study author tells Discovery.

Says another author to National Geographic, “The other inner planets could have been wet early and evolved life before they became the harsh environments they are today.”

The asteroid lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and meteorites from this belt have been found on the ice covered planet, Antarctica.

Both Vesta and Earth formed in the inner solar system. Researchers already believe that Vesta’s nitrogen probably came from the same source as Earth’s.

Though previous analyses of the meteorites did not show any traces of water, the researchers “zoomed in on the molecular contents of the meteorites, and found trace amounts of hydrogen-oxygen molecules.”

Sarafian also said that though we do not know when asteroids brought water to our planet, this particular study has helped add a time stamp to the event. “At that time, the earth might have been quiet small, and was more like a fiery rock that was hit by asteroids all the time. With time, volcanic activity released vapor and as the planet cooled, the vapor condensed and also caused the atmosphere to thicken, so that the condensed vapor stayed on the earth’s surface as water,” believes the researcher.

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