Sugar Granule sized Meteorites Shook The Climate In Early Stages Of Earth And Mars.
Scientists from Imperial College London have been researching the effects of Late Heavy Bombardment or LHB, a time when Earth and Mars was hit with a barrage or meteorites for a period in time of around 100 million years. These meteorites reach 1000 degrees celsius releasing gases such as sulphur dioxide. Sulphur Dioxide as you may not know deflects sunlight away from the surface.
Well over 15 million tons showered the earth each year during LHB, while Mars only acquired around half a million tons per year. Professor Mark Sephton of Departments of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London states ” Far less of the Sun’s energy was reaching Earth 4 billion years ago, which would have made it hard for early life to emerge. Recently denied of its protective magnetic field and constantly subjected to large meteorite impacts, Mars was also starting to lose its greenhouse gases at this time, causing global cooling. The influx of sulphur dioxide into Mars atmosphere would have dealt a further blow to a planet already on ropes, making conditions for life even more of a challenge.”
1991 Mount Pinatubo
The researchers state that “a large in flux of sulphur dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere had the same cooling effect on the climate as if there was an eruption of size of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption every day for 100 million years. The Mount Pinatubo eruption released 17 million tonnes of gases, including sulphur dioxide , into the atmosphere preventing 10% of sunlight from reaching Earth and cooling the planet by half a degree Celsius.”
This was imagined to be even more drastic on Mars since it is further away from the Sun. The water collected on the planet’s surface would have disappear and the climate would have plunged, making it hard for life to find a way.
Robot Cruising the Surface of Mars
Another scientist Dr. Richard Court, of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London throws in “these sugar sized meteorites are left over material from the construction of our early Solar System, helping to build rocky planets such as Earth and Mars. “
The Scientists found there answers by simulating the effects of Micro-meteorites upon atmosphere entry by heating the rock fragments (identical to the micro meteorites) to 1000 degrees Celsius. Then measured the gases released via infrared spectroscopy and came up with all the calculations with their findings.
Imperial College London
This study being an extension of an earlier project where the team had come to find that meteorites are not the source of the methane gases Mars atmosphere today. There studies have also proven important gases were delivered to Earth via meteorites in our early stages of life that made it more habitable.
All research funded by Science and the Technology Facilities Council.
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