By | September 16, 2022
Alien water has been found for the first time in a meteorite that has fallen in the UK.  The Winchcombe meteorite crashed into a driveway in the Gloucestershire town last year

Alien water found in British meteorite for FIRST time: Experts say Winchcombe space rock that crashed into a Cotswolds driveway last year could help explain how Earth got its oceans

  • Alien water has been discovered for the first time in meteorites found in Britain
  • The Winchcombe meteorite may hold clues about where Earth’s oceans came from
  • The space rock crashed into the driveway in the Gloucestershire town in February last year
  • Scientists have revealed that 12 percent of the sample consisted of water

Alien water has been found for the first time in a meteorite that has fallen in the UK.

The Winchcombe meteorite, which crashed into a driveway in the Gloucestershire town last February, is also believed to hold clues to where Earth’s vast oceans came from.

Ashley King, a scientist in the planetary materials group at the Natural History Museum, said 12 percent of the sample was water.

He told the British Science Festival: “The composition of that water is very, very similar to the composition of the water in Earth’s oceans.

“It’s really good evidence that asteroids and bodies like Winchcombe made a very important contribution to Earth’s oceans.”

Alien water has been found for the first time in a meteorite that has fallen in the UK.  The Winchcombe meteorite crashed into a driveway in the Gloucestershire town last year

Alien water has been found for the first time in a meteorite that has fallen in the UK. The Winchcombe meteorite crashed into a driveway in the Gloucestershire town last year

The family thought someone had thrown lumps of coal onto their driveway

A family who had a meteorite land outside their home in the Cotswolds said they thought someone had emptied a barbecue on their drive when they saw the stones.

Hannah Wilcock, 25, and her parents Rob and Cathryn were surprised to learn that the “lumps of coal” they had heard banging on their car on the night of February 28 were in fact fragments of a 4.6 billion year old meteorite.

Weighing a total of around 300 grams, the meteorite shot through the sky and crashed into their driveway in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire – putting the family at the center of a major scientific discovery.

The meteorite is one of the most valuable space rocks ever to hit Britain and has had metal detectors scouring fields in Gloucestershire for the past month.

Still, Cathryn had other, more plausible theories, believing that the dark spots on their driveway were parts of a barbecue that had been dumped after the warm weather.

Hannah said she had been inside her parents’ home when she heard a thud.

She told the BBC: “When I heard it fall I stood up and looked out the window to see what was there.

“But because it was dark I couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t until the next morning when we went out that we saw it on the driveway – kind of like a splatter.

“And to be honest, my original thought was – has anyone been driving around the Cotswolds dropping lumps of coal into people’s gardens?”

Dr King also confirmed that Winchcombe was the first time a meteorite containing extraterrestrial water – albeit locked in minerals – had fallen in Britain.

He added that because of how quickly the 1 lb (0.5 kg) meteorite was retrieved – within about 12 hours – it was not contaminated by water and material on Earth.

“We always try to match the composition of the water meteorites and other extraterrestrial materials to the composition of the water on Earth,” Dr King said.

“For most meteorites, the challenge we have is that they’re just contaminated, whereas with Winchcombe we really know they haven’t really been contaminated, so that’s good evidence.”

Dr King continued: ‘One of the big questions we have in planetary science is where did the water on Earth come from? And one of the obvious places is either through comets that have lots and lots of ice in them, or asteroids.

“There’s always a debate — were comets the main source, were asteroids the main source?”

Explaining that data from cometary missions suggest they are not a good match for the water on Earth, he added: “The composition of the water in Winchcombe is a much better match, so it would suggest that asteroids – carbonaceous asteroids – were probably the the main source of water to the inner solar system, to Earth.’

Dr King continued: “We have had a hint that some asteroids match back nicely to Earth.

“But now we have a meteorite that’s really fresh that we know hasn’t been modified, and it confirms the same story.”

Speaking at De Montfort University, which hosts the festival, Dr King said analysis has shown the meteorite came from an asteroid somewhere near Jupiter.

It formed about 4.6 billion years ago, and its journey to Earth took about 300,000 years.

There are about 65,000 known meteorites on Earth.

This is the first known carbonaceous chondrite to be found in Britain, and the first meteorite recovered in Britain in 30 years.

Astronomers say the meteorite plunged into Earth’s orbit at about 31,000 mph – 40 times the speed of sound – before burning up and shattering into smaller pieces in dramatic fashion.

However, unlike most shooting stars, this meteorite was large enough that some pieces survived entry into the atmosphere when it swept over Gloucestershire at 21:54 on 28 February 2021.

Very little survived the dramatic crash landing, which left a few pounds of material falling to earth in Winchcombe.

All pieces of meteorite material found in the city were then moved to the Museum of Natural History.

Sara Russell, meteorite researcher at the Natural History Museum, described the meteorite’s discovery as a “once-in-a-lifetime event”.

The meteorite was the first known carbonaceous chondrite to have been found in Britain

The meteorite was the first known carbonaceous chondrite to have been found in Britain

It was removed soon after it landed, as scientists were eager to study the rock in more detail

It was removed soon after it landed, as scientists were eager to study the rock in more detail

Explained: The difference between an asteroid, meteorite and other space rocks

One asteroid is a large piece of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.

A comet is a rock covered in ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.

A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.

This garbage itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small that they evaporate in the atmosphere.

If one of these meteoroids reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite.

Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.

For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.

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