Volatile Species in Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Investigating the Link from the ISM to the Terrestrial Planets

Rubin, Martin; Bekaert, David V.; Broadley, Michael W.; Drozdovskaya, Maria N.; Wampfler, Susanne F. (2019). Volatile Species in Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Investigating the Link from the ISM to the Terrestrial Planets. ACS earth and space chemistry, 3(9), pp. 1792-1811. ACS Publications 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.9b00096

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Comets contain abundant amounts of organic and inorganic species. Many of the volatile molecules in comets have also been observed in the interstellar medium and some of them even with similar relative abundances, indicating formation under similar conditions or even sharing a common chemical pathway. There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests comets inherit and preserve substantial fractions of materials inherited from previous evolutionary phases, potentially indicating that commonplace processes occurred throughout comet-forming regions. Through impacts, part of this material has also been transported to the inner planetary system, including the terrestrial planets. While comets have been ruled out as a major contributor to terrestrial ocean water, substantial delivery of volatile species to the Earth’s atmosphere, and as a consequence also organic molecules to its biomass, appears more likely. Comets contain many species of prebiotic relevance and molecules that are related to biological processes on Earth, and have hence been proposed as potential indicators for the presence of biological processes in the search of extraterrestrial life. Although the delivery of cometary material to Earth may have played a crucial role in the emergence of life, the presence of such alleged biosignature molecules in the abiotical environment of comets complicates the detection of life elsewhere in the universe.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Rubin, Martin; Drozdovskaya, Maria Nikolayevna and Wampfler, Susanne


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




ACS Publications




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

02 Sep 2019 10:37

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 09:47

Publisher DOI:






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