Today at Berkeley Lab

Space Dust in the Solar Wind Yields Water

Mike Martin and Hans Bechtel of the Advanced Light Source (ALS), and Jim Ciston of the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), were co-authors of a paper in PNAS detailing how irradiation from solar wind can produce water on interplanetary dust particles. Infrared beams from the ALS and electron microscopy analysis at NCEM provided the preliminary data that suggested the interaction of hydrogen ions in the solar wind with oxygen in the silicate mineral grains along the rims of interplanetary dust particles forms water molecules. Subsequent esperiments at LLNL by John Bradley and Hope Ishii, both now with the University of Hawaii, confirmed it. Some 40,000 tons of interplanetary dust lands on Earth every year. More>