How Did Asteroids Steals Oxygen From the Ancient Atmosphere of Earth?

astronomy, environment

Can Astronomy tell us about the Earths ancient atmosphere?

asteroid shower
asteroid shower (click here for original source image)

The question is if the ancient Astronomy records show any evidence of oxygen being stolen by meteorites. Can we find some evidence that the solar system had an oxygen rich atmosphere and that life could exist on the surface of the planet?

If so, is there a record of this in our planet’s history?

In fact there are many recorded cases and some observational clues to indicate that oxygen was stolen from the early Earths atmosphere by space rocks.

Oxygen is needed to breathe. It is necessary for life to survive. But it is also vital to the life of all the earths non-astronomical satellites in space. Hence there is some reason to suspect whether space rocks may have stolen oxygen from the early Earths atmosphere. Some astronomers are particularly worried about the discovery of Carbonaceous Chondrites (also known as asteroid bearing rocks) that contains much more than oxygen.

Oxygen is carried in molecules and atoms. Some of them are very heavy and are very common in our planet. However, many of these heavier O2 molecules are very rare and only found in very old surfaces. Evidence of oxygenation in Earth’s ancient atmosphere is therefore indirect and comes from the mineralogical record. Many rocks with the signature of oxygenated mineral content have been found on older surfaces and this may mean that oxygenated minerals in the ancient oceans were dispersed to the surface by wind or water.

When the space rocks were formed they would have contained a great deal of water as well as organic material such as plant fossils and protein from bacteria. The composition of the asteroid or space rock that caused the problem would have been highly diverse. So, there is every reason to suspect that this could be where the problem originated from.

It is however difficult to imagine how life could have spread through the oceans and taken hold in the early Earths.

So, where did all this oxygen come from?

How could organic compounds in the oceans give off oxygen when they were initially in a very poor state?

Life couldn’t have spread through the ancient atmosphere alone. It makes sense to look for where other organic compounds come from.

There are many theories out there, some more likely than others. One suggestion is that oxygenated gases escaping from the planet’s ancient Atmosphere might have traveled through cracks in the planet’s crust and traveled into space before being mixed with lighter gases and elements from the early solar system. This is an idea that has already been used to create an oxygen hole in outer space, called an “oxygen hole”. Another idea is that Earth’s ancient Atmosphere was much less than it is today.

Could the planet have once had an atmosphere that was composed primarily of water vapor?

Evidence of a very early atmosphere can be found in various places on Earth. In fact there are a number of sites where the remains of dinosaurs are found with traces of oxygen in their fossil gasses. Another possibility is that the planet was once much warmer than it is today, and that this slightly warm environment was a perfect environment for plant and animal life to evolve – which would also add to the oxygen in the atmosphere.

The first breathable planet was likely capable of supporting life. Evidence suggests that primitive planets in our solar system were similar to Earth’s modern-day ozone layer. Although our planet’s Atmosphere is not as rich in oxygen as Earth’s ancient Atmosphere, it is believed that an atmosphere could have been formed at least partially from organic compounds released by bacteria. Indeed many believe that life truly began on Earth through organic compounds, rather than via chance chemical reactions.

How Does Asteroids Steal Oxygen From the Atmosphere – Is It Possible?

asteroid belt
asteroid belt (click here for original source image)

If you were to ask a person on the street how does Asteroids steal oxygen from the Earths atmosphere, they would most likely not be able to give you a straight answer. Most people are aware of the big space rocks that we see occasionally hitting the Earth. However, very few people know about their origins or what makes them turn up near our space system. When they do come into contact with our atmosphere, our oceans get hurt. When these space rocks are very large they can even disrupt and destroy satellites.

When these space rocks are very large, they can also block other space debris from entering our own Solar System. This in turn can lead to a collision and space debris mission. Some smaller space rocks have been found to contain organic compounds. The organic compounds are thought to be fuel for re-entry vehicles which will use this material as fuel to make it into our Solar System and perhaps even Mars.

Asteroid that land tend to make their approach gradually, they don’t come flying through the atmosphere like a meteorite. They may come in with hundreds of kilos or even millions. These huge space rocks impact the surface of the planet that they are targeting and as the rock moves past the atmosphere the oxygen gets stolen by the rock. This process takes place hundreds of meters above the surface.

When a space rock impacts the atmosphere of our planet the rock breaks down into small pieces. These pieces then start to interact with the oxygen in the air causing massive amounts of damage. The amount of damage is dependent on how big the space rock is and how quickly it gets into the atmosphere.

Some of these rocky space rocks can reach a diameter of 10 inches before they break into pieces. This means that they can quickly and easily reach the nearby oxygen rich atmosphere. Once there, they can oxidize and produce Carbon dioxide and other gases which further increase the oxidization process. This means that the surrounding area gets increasingly polluted with oxygen gas. It also means that any plant or animal life in that vicinity begins to perish.

What causes these sudden changes in the environment of the space rock that came to harm our planet?

One theory is that an asteroid is making its way through a gas pocket in the outer reaches of our solar system. This space rock is thought to be traveling at several hundred kilometers a day and it gets trapped by this enormous space vacuum. The increased pressure in the surrounding area causes the oxygen in the surrounding air to be converted to carbon dioxide. The combination of the two gases produces large amounts of ozone, which is believed to cause massive damage to the astronauts who needed to go into space.

There are other theories about the destruction of the Mars colony.

Did the asteroid hit Mars at a very shallow angle or did it travel much deeper?

Perhaps it was traveling close to the equator and as it broke apart, the shock waves traveled down to Earth where people could see them as they lived on the surface. This might explain why there were no indications of life in the area around the space rock. Perhaps there was no sign of watery oceans and oxygenated lakes.

The question ‘how does Asteroids Steal Oxygen from Earths Atmosphere’ remains unanswered and shrouded in theory.

However, scientists have some ideas about how such large space rocks get there. They suggest that such extreme forces from an asteroid impact could create large clouds of molecular gases called nitrides. These clouds would help to block out the sun’s rays thus making it difficult for the molecules to absorb oxygen. They also suggest that such clouds might form near equator regions where solar storms would be most intense and longest.

Provided by Antonio Westley


Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.



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