The new 3D model of the atom will help to better understand the origin of life on Earth. The technique was developed by scientists from the University of Ontario, whose work was published in the journal Proceedings.
The 3D modeling technique was used to map individual atoms in minerals formed in liquids on the Tagish asteroid. This carbon chondrite fell into the frozen Lake Tagish, located in Canada, about 2 thousand years ago.
The age of the object is estimated at about 4.5 billion years – this approximately corresponds to the age of the solar system.
To analyze a meteorite, researchers use atomic probe tomography, a technique that can visualize atoms in 3D. Researchers found traces of water in the pores formed in the asteroid’s crust. This allowed scientists to determine that water appeared on the surface of the asteroid a short time after its formation.
The new technique will allow the development of analytical methods for planetary materials returned to Earth by spacecraft, the authors of the study note. 3D visualization allows you to accurately assess the age and composition of the rocks, as well as detect traces of organic matter in them.
Atomic probe tomography gives us the opportunity to make fantastic discoveries based on particles of material that are a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Since space missions can deliver to Earth only a very limited amount of material from space bodies, we need methods that will allow us to get the maximum knowledge from their study. Thanks to this, we could better understand the solar system, preserving the studied material for future generations.
Beth Lymer, lead author of the study