Water in space facts: Top 7 questions answered
Water in space facts
Is there water in space?
Compared to Mercury, Venus, Mars and the Moon, Earth looks to be an oasis in a dry Universe. We now know that there is a lot of water in space. Ice been detected on the Moon, in shadowy craters that never see the Sun. Probes sent to Mars have photographed ice sheets on the Martian North pole. Looking out into space, astronomers have detected water in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars. Vast clouds of water vapour have also been detected in deep space.
Contrary to many sci-fi movies, aliens will never invade the Earth to steal our water. Water is far more abundant than scriptwriters seem to think.
What is the largest amount of water found in space?
In 2011, astronomers discovered an enormous cloud of water vapour surrounding an ancient quasar, a kind of super-massive black hole. It is estimated that the cloud contains 140 trillion times the water in all of the Earth’s oceans. Light from the quasar took 12 billion years to reach us, so this discovery confirms that vast quantities of water was present as early as 1.6 billion years after the Big Bang.
Where is most of the water in our Solar System?
Most of the water in the Solar System is beyond the orbit of Mars. Many asteroids are composed of a mixture of rock and ice. Many of the moons that orbit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune also contain a significant quantity of ice. Further out, there is the Kupier belt and Oort cloud, both of which are be believed to be populated largely by icy snow-balls.
Does water in space freeze or boil?
Because there is nothing to conduct heat in a vacuum, water exposed to space will not freeze instantly. The boiling point of water decreases as the air pressure decreases. Because there is no pressure at all in a vacuum, water will boil at any temperature. Water exposed to space will first boil, then freeze.
What is so interesting about water bears in space?
The Tardigrade, also known as a water bear or moss piglet, is tiny eight legged animal that lives in water. In recent years they’ve become famous after it was discovered that they are nearly indestructible. Water bears can survive pressures in the deepest oceans, temperatures well over the boiling point of water, and radiation exposure that would easily kill a human. They can withstand the vacuum of space and can even go without food or water for up to 10 years.
We should be grateful that these animals don’t hold a grudge from all those experiments. An enraged moss piglet would be unstoppable!
Does the space station recycle water?
The International Space Station uses distillation to recycle up to 93% of the water delivered to the space station. The distiller boils sweat, urine, and grey-water to create steam. To separate waste from steam in zero-g, the distiller spins and the steam is then pumped out of the device. Once cooled, it condense back into pure water.
Did Mars once have oceans?
In recent years robots on and around Mars have found a great deal of evidence that Mars had a lot of water billions of years ago. Minerals that form in the presence of water have been detected on the planet. Meteorites, blasted from Mars’ surface long ago, have fallen on the Earth and show signs that they were once exposed to water. The terrain of Mars has evidence of river valleys and erosion from streams. Lake basins comparable in size to lakes on Earth have also been found.
While Mars was once wet, we just don’t know how much water was present, so we can’t be sure that Mars ever had an ocean. If an ocean did exist, then the mostly likely site would be the Vastitas Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere. If this depression were filled with water, it cover at least one third of Mars’ surface.