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67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a Jupiter family comet with a high D/H ratio

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Science  23 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6220, 1261952
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261952

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Abstract

The provenance of water and organic compounds on Earth and other terrestrial planets has been discussed for a long time without reaching a consensus. One of the best means to distinguish between different scenarios is by determining the deuterium-to-hydrogen (D/H) ratios in the reservoirs for comets and Earth’s oceans. Here, we report the direct in situ measurement of the D/H ratio in the Jupiter family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the ROSINA mass spectrometer aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, which is found to be (5.3 ± 0.7) × 10−4—that is, approximately three times the terrestrial value. Previous cometary measurements and our new finding suggest a wide range of D/H ratios in the water within Jupiter family objects and preclude the idea that this reservoir is solely composed of Earth ocean–like water.

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