Solar wind contributions to Earth’s oceans

Daly, L. et al. (2021) Solar wind contributions to Earth’s oceans. Nature Astronomy, 5(12), pp. 1275-1285. (doi: 10.1038/s41550-021-01487-w)

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The isotopic composition of water in Earth’s oceans is challenging to recreate using a plausible mixture of known extraterrestrial sources such as asteroids—an additional isotopically light reservoir is required. The Sun’s solar wind could provide an answer to balance Earth’s water budget. We used atom probe tomography to directly observe an average ~1 mol% enrichment in water and hydroxyls in the solar-wind-irradiated rim of an olivine grain from the S-type asteroid Itokawa. We also experimentally confirm that H+ irradiation of silicate mineral surfaces produces water molecules. These results suggest that the Itokawa regolith could contain ~20 l m−3 of solar-wind-derived water and that such water reservoirs are probably ubiquitous on airless worlds throughout our Galaxy. The production of this isotopically light water reservoir by solar wind implantation into fine-grained silicates may have been a particularly important process in the early Solar System, potentially providing a means to recreate Earth’s current water isotope ratios.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lee, Professor Martin and Daly, Dr Luke and Hallis, Dr Lydia and Christou, Evangelos
Authors: Daly, L., Lee, M. R., Hallis, L. J., Ishii, H. A., Bradley, J. P., Bland, P. A., Saxey, D. W., Fougerouse, D., Rickard, W. D.A., Forman, L. V., Timms, N. E., Jourdan, F., Reddy, S. M., Salge, T., Quadir, Z., Christou, E., Cox, M. A., Aguiar, J. A., Hattar, K., Monterrosa, A., Keller, L. P., Christofferson, R., Dukes, C. A., Loeffler, M. J., and Thompson, M. S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Nature Astronomy
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2397-3366
Published Online:29 November 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Nature Astronomy 5(12): 1275-1285
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
Related URLs:
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.1164

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
308251UK leadership in extraterrestrial sample returnMartin LeeScience and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/T002328/1P&S - Physics & Astronomy
172314A journey from the solar nebula to planetary bodies: cycling of heat, water and organicsMartin LeeScience and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/N000846/1GES - Earth Sciences