Organic Chemistry in Comets From Remote and In Situ Observations

  • J. Kissel
  • F. R. Krueger
  • K. Roessler

Abstract

Radiation induced chemistry is the major source of organic matter in space. Comets as small bodies, that were kept in the cold parts of our solar system since its formation provide a unique source to study such genuine material.

When the VEGA and GIOTTO spacecrafts flew by comet P/Halley in 1986 the mass-spectrometers Puma and PIA measured the composition of cometary dust particles impacting at speeds of well above 65 km s−1. Ion formation upon impact leads to mostly atomic ions. However, a small fraction of the ions measured could be related to molecules. A sophisticated analysis allowed for the first time to point to the chemical nature of cometary organics based on actual mass spectra.

The next logical step for in situ cometary exploration is a rendezvous-type mission. This had been planned by NASA and the German BMFT, but was unfortunately canceled in the spring of 1992. In the meantime the European Space Agency (ESA) has dedicated its next major mission, Rosetta, to perform a comet rendezvous.

A time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometer (CoMA) can provide much higher mass resolution up to molecule masses of some 3000 Da.

Keywords

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Solar Wind Dust Particle Cometary Nucleus Cometary Dust 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kissel
  • F. R. Krueger
  • K. Roessler

There are no affiliations available

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