Adirondack Sky Center Virtual Astronomy Talk - Water in the Solar System

Adirondack Sky Center Virtual Astronomy Talk - Water in the Solar System

Where is the Water and Where Did it Come From?

Virtual Astronomy Talk with Mike Adler

Water is essential to life as we know it and over the last 15 years, we have discovered that water is present in surprising places throughout our solar system and beyond. In this talk we will analyze where water exists in our solar system and beyond and how it got there. We will also discuss the various theories as to how Earth acquired its water.

Analysis from the New Horizon’s mission to Pluto strongly suggests that there is a liquid buried ocean on Pluto in spite of the temperatures as cold as -400F there. The Cassini mission to Saturn has discovered water geysers and a likely subsurface ocean on Enceladus. Jupiter’s moon Europa and Ganymede also likely have a buried liquid ocean because of tidal heating effects from Jupiter’s strong gravity. Closer to home Mars shows signs of having surface oceans during its early existence and large areas of buried ice have been detected. Before it was boiled off by a runaway greenhouse effect Venus likely has as much water as Earth does now. Then there is the intense debate as to how Earth acquired its water. Possibilities include bombardment by comets and asteroids and recent evidence suggests that it was incorporated into the Earth during its formation.

Overall, it is estimated that the solar system contained as much as 50 times the amount of water present on the Earth and water may be common on exo planets.

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