Rosetta reignites debate on the origin of Earth’s water

December 13, 2014 1:48 AM

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Rosetta reignites debate on the origin of Earth’s water

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta, is on a mission of discovery, aiming to unlock the secrets of the early solar system. After deploying its Philae lander on Nov. 12, Rosetta has continued to orbit and analyze Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Scientists have long hypothesized that comets were responsible for supplying the infant Earth with water, and ultimately life. This week ESA announced that water vapor collected from the comet varies significantly from the water we find on Earth, thus reigniting the debate on where Earth’s water came from.

The Earth formed over 4.6 billion years ago, and in its infancy was a much hotter world than we know today. As such, any surface water present would have boiled off by the searing heat of an early Earth. Today, our home planet is very different, with two-thirds of its surface covered by water. So ho...

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