Earth’s water could have interstellar origin

Water is one of the major building blocks of life and Earth has an abundance of it, as 71 percent of its surface is covered by water, largely due to its expansive oceans. Now a new study theorizes that Earth’s water may have been carried to our planet from ancient comets, millions of years ago.

The study, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters, looked at data from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and found that there were similarities to the water contained on the comet Wirtanen and the water on Earth.

“We have identified a vast reservoir of Earth-like water in the outer reaches of the solar system,” said the study’s lead author, Darek Lis, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “Water was crucial for the development of life as we know it. We not only want to understand how Earth’s water was delivered, but also if this process could work in other planetary systems.”

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