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Earth’s Ancient Water

September 29, 2014

The earth’s water is older than the sun’s and may point to the possibility of life in other parts of space.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

This is an illustration of water in our Solar System through time from before the Sun's birth through the creation of the planets. Bill Saxton NSF AUI NRAO

An illustration of water in our Solar System through time from before the Sun’s birth through the creation of the planets. (Bill Saxton/NSF/AUI/NRAO)

Earth’s ancient water. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The water you drink, swim in, and contemplate during long walks on the beach may have originated in interstellar space, according to a new study in the journal Science. Carnegie Institution cosmochemist Conel Alexander explains that earth’s oceans have high levels of deuterium, a form of hydrogen. But not the sun.

CONEL ALEXANDER (Carnegie Institution):

The earth’s water seems to be about enriched in deuterium by about 10 times that of the early solar system.

HIRSHON:

This suggests that some of the earth’s water came from ice in the cold reaches of interstellar space before the sun even formed. This could mean that the other organic matter necessary for life may be common in interstellar space, too.

ALEXANDER :

If you’re sitting in your bath relaxing and dreaming about the stars, I think it’s quite an interesting intriguing story, just the water you’re sitting in.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.