Posted by: waterworks | November 26, 2007

7. Water from outer space


Conventional teaching about the world’s hydrological cycle – the model which describes how water perpetually flows, evaporates and condenses to form rainfall  – suggests that there is a fixed amount of water on our planet.  The hydrological  cycle is usually described as a ‘closed system’, meaning it neither gains nor loses water over time.  Although day-to-day alteration of the volume stored in different lakes, rivers and ice masses is permitted – with tides, seasons and extreme weather events all acknowledged as active practitioners of hydrological Feng Shui – the total amount of water on Earth is expected to remain a constant. However, this notion was challenged in 1999, when new water was found locked inside a meteor.

The Washington Post reported that: ‘A meteorite that whistled into a West Texas yard … contained the first extraterrestrial water ever captured on Earth … Like a cosmic message in a bottle, the microscopic bubbles of primordial water are locked inside crystals of halite, the mineral that makes up table salt, but in this case has been turned blue and purple by radiation.  The crystals and their liquid cargo appear to date from the dawn of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.’  Unfortunately, such droplets are very  small – about a tenth the diameter of a human hair – and so are unlikely to contribute in any meaningful way to the amelioration of impending water shortages in Texas.  A combination of climate change and heightened water consumption in Texas, in common with neighbouring Arizona, means that there are dry times ahead.  Sadly, space water is unlikely to solve this problem. 


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