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Science. 2017 Jun 9;356(6342):1069-1072. doi: 10.1126/science.aal3496.

Xenon isotopes in 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko show that comets contributed to Earth's atmosphere.

Author information

1
Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, CNRS, Université de Lorraine, 15 rue Notre Dame des Pauvres, BP 20, 54501 Vandoeuvre lès Nancy, France. bmarty@crpg.cnrs-nancy.fr.
2
Physikalisches Institut, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.
3
Center for Space and Habitability, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.
4
Department of Geoscience, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel.
5
Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, CNRS, Université de Lorraine, 15 rue Notre Dame des Pauvres, BP 20, 54501 Vandoeuvre lès Nancy, France.
6
Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS), Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 4 Avenue de Neptune, 94100 Saint-Maur, France.
7
Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan, 2455 Hayward Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
8
Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l'Environnement et de l'Espace (LPC2E), UMR 6115 CNRS-Université d'Orléans, France.
9
Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Ruimte-Aeronomie/Institut Royal d'Aéronomie Spatiale de Belgique (BIRA-IASB), Ringlaan 3, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium.
10
Institute of Computer and Network Engineering (IDA), Technische Universität Braunschweig, Hans-Sommer-Straße 66, D-38106 Braunschweig, Germany.
11
Department of Space Science, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78228, USA.
12
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung (MPS), Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.
13
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, CNRS, Aix Marseille Université, 13388 Marseille, France.
14
Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.
15
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, 9 Avenue du Colonel Roche, 31028 Toulouse Cedex 4, France.

Abstract

The origin of cometary matter and the potential contribution of comets to inner-planet atmospheres are long-standing problems. During a series of dedicated low-altitude orbits, the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) on the Rosetta spacecraft analyzed the isotopes of xenon in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The xenon isotopic composition shows deficits in heavy xenon isotopes and matches that of a primordial atmospheric component. The present-day Earth atmosphere contains 22 ± 5% cometary xenon, in addition to chondritic (or solar) xenon.

PMID:
28596364
DOI:
10.1126/science.aal3496

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