Solar wind and Water on Earth – Journal cover art

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A University of Glasgow-led international team of researchers found that solar wind is very likely responsible for the presence of water on Earth.

The solar wind is made of high-energy hydrogen atoms emitted by the Sun. These created water on the surface of dust grains carried on asteroids, that later smashed into Earth during the early days of the Solar System.

This new solar wind theory is based on meticulous atom-by-atom analysis of miniscule fragments of the Itokawa asteroid. Samples of this asteroid were collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa, and analyzed using an advanced atom probe tomography system.

The research could also help future space missions: astronauts could use this mechanism to get sufficient water without carrying supplies.

This scientific illustration was designed to guide the viewer on a visual journey from the Sun, to the asteroid, and then to Earth.

The Sun is the clear starting point of this journey: its positioning on the top-left of the image and the rays of solar wind surrounding it help draw attention to it.

Then, the arrow guides the eye to the asteroid, where one can see the water molecules being formed. The asteroid’s shape closely resembles Itokawa.

Finally, a second arrow guides the focus to Earth, which is seen from a perspective that emphasizes its water component.

The use of complementary colors for the Sun and Earth helps create contrast and balance within the piece.

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