Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Biblical 'storm of meteorites' may have prepared Earth for life

How did the Earth end up wet enough, warm enough to support life? New evidence suggests "a storm of meteorites that pounded Earth" about 4 billion years ago may have done it. (BBC)

The "storm", otherwise know as the "Late Heavy Bombardment" (LHB), is a mysterious period where tens of thousands of meteors pummeled the Earth.
According to Wikipedia, the Bombardment would have left 22,000 impact craters smaller than 20 km, 40 craters around 1,000 km and several at 5,000 km. That's insane huge.

What causes the bombardment? Scientists don't know. Jupiter and Saturn may have rearranged their orbits, stirring the asteroid belt. And there may have been a fifth planet in the inner solar system (called "Planet V") that broke up somehow.

Whatever caused the bombardment,
an Imperial College London study suggests all those meteors may have created enough water and CO2 to create the "global warming, liquid oceans" needed to create "a more habitable environment" for life.

How do they know? They heated meteorites up to 20,000C and measured the water vapor and CO2 released, and the meteor storm during the LHB would have created 10 billion tons of water and CO2 per year.

By the way, around the time of the LHB, there's evidence the earth was warm and wet when
it should have been a frozen wasteland.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.