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Tuesday 4 October 2016

The Universe in 101 words: How could asteroids have liquid water?

Fancy a space art cushion cover, clock, mug, mobile phone, art print, or laptop skin, designed by an actual space scientist?

4.5 billion years ago a swirling disk of dust orbited the newborn Sun, like an entourage around a pop princess*. 

The dust clumped, forming bigger and bigger objects - first fist sized, then asteroid sized, then hundreds of planetary embryos. Big ones had the gravity to pull in small ones, the impacts released heat, and everything was loaded with heat producing radioactive elements...

... so even tiny worlds, that are dead rock and ice today, were warm enough for molten cores, magnetic fields, volcanoes, tenuous atmospheres… 

…and, seeping through their rocks, the thing NASA is scouring the cosmos for: Liquid water.

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