The earth is gaining weight every year: Invisible particles from space add an incredible amount of tons to our planet!
Thousands of new buildings and millions of people come and build on Earth every year. This, logically, must be reflected in the weight of the Earth, which is growing from year to year. However, there is also a source that significantly burdens the Earth, but its origin on our planet cannot be traced, because it comes from space.
It is the so-called extraterrestrial dust, that is, even the smallest particles that are in space and that reach the earth’s surface in any way. In scientific circles, they are also called micrometeorites, and nothing remains due to this dust. This is because the size of these particles usually ranges from a few molecules to 0.1 millimeters.
Despite their small size, however, they add an incredible 5,200 tons to the Earth every year. This number was developed by scientists who have studied micrometeorite particles in the Antarctic region in the last two decades. They obtained more than two thousand extraordinary samples in three huge pits in which the research took place.
Thanks to them, they were able to determine approximately how many micrometeorites are found in other parts of the world, which helped them calculate the mass that the planet Earth “gets” every year because of its particles. The scientific team published its findings in the specialized journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
The reason why scientists searched for and studied these particles in Antarctica is simple. There is no liquid water that could destroy them. In contrast, ice is an ideal environment for micrometeors, which will, so to speak, preserve them, explains Jean Duprat from the Sorbonne University in Paris.
However, access to frozen samples was not easy. Scientists had to use hundreds of kilograms of snow and ice to shovel and see them. Even if they managed to get samples, they had to thaw them carefully without damage. However, the hard work was worth it because it revealed extraordinary results.
Thanks to the samples, the scientists not only discovered the mass they represent on Earth, but also identified, for example, that about 80% of micrometeorite particles come from comets orbiting the Sun closer to Jupiter, and the rest probably from the so-called asteroid belt. The results showed that particles, in addition to their weight, bring between 20 and 100 tons of carbon to Earth each year.