Research NewsPlanetary Science

Spots Confirmed, Tiny Comets Spurned

Science  30 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5317, pp. 1333
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5317.1333

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When space physicist Lou Frank proposed a decade ago that tiny spots in a satellite image were the watery remains of tiny comets that had pummeled Earth, the scientific community roundly criticized the idea. Now, sharper images show that Frank was at least half right: There are indeed small, gassy clouds of water high in the atmosphere--although few researchers are willing to accept midget comets as their source.