Scientists have discovered small pockets of carbon dioxide-rich liquid water in a meteorite. It dates from the early solar system.
Researchers used advanced microscopy techniques to examine fragments of the Sutters Mill meteorite. It is a large meteorite that exploded over Washington on April 22, 2012 with a yield similar to 4 kilotons of TNT. Fragments of a meteorite with a total mass of about 1 kg were found in California. Scientists have discovered a calcite crystal in a meteorite.
Its peculiarity is that it contains nanometer-sized aqueous fluid inclusions. It turned out that they contain at least 15% carbon dioxide. The new discovery confirms that calcite crystals in ancient carbonaceous chondrites can indeed contain not only liquid water, but also carbon dioxide.
The presence of liquid water inclusions in Sutters Mill clarifies the origin of the parent asteroid, the kilogram meteorite, and provides more data on the early history of the solar system. The inclusions were likely due to the formation of a parent asteroid with chunks of frozen water and carbon dioxide inside it. This could happen if an asteroid formed in a part of the solar system that was cold enough for water and carbon dioxide to freeze. At the same time, the asteroid had to form far beyond the Earth’s orbit in order to collide with it later.
The discovery supports the theory that asteroids, rich in small volatile molecules such as water and carbon dioxide, formed outside Jupiter’s orbit before moving to areas closer to the Sun. The most likely reason for the transfer of an asteroid into the inner part of the solar system may be the gravitational effects of the gas giant.
In conclusion, the discovery of water inclusions in a carbonaceous chondritic meteorite from the early history of the solar system is an important advance for planetary science. Scientists first discovered a liquid “stuck” in a mineral 4.6 billion years ago.