Scientists literally brought out the big gun to study the origins of water

Did planets like Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury form dry out of the dust and heat of the inner solar system, only to be drenched in water delivered from ice-laden comets later on? Or did drier asteroids and asteroid collisions bring the wet stuff?

To really understand how this water delivery system works, you need to watch it happen. But meteorite strikes are notoriously unpredictable, so researchers decided to create their own with the help of a super-sized gun at NASA’s Ames Research Center. 

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Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe

Understand how stellar processes change clouds of gas and dust into stars and planets, including the Earth, and how life emerged here and perhaps elsewhere.

 

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 An artist's impression of an asteroid collision in space.  NASA/JPL-Caltech

An artist's impression of an asteroid collision in space. NASA/JPL-Caltech