Special Issue Reports

Organic compounds on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko revealed by COSAC mass spectrometry

Science  31 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6247,
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0689

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Abstract

Comets harbor the most pristine material in our solar system in the form of ice, dust, silicates, and refractory organic material with some interstellar heritage. The evolved gas analyzer Cometary Sampling and Composition (COSAC) experiment aboard Rosetta’s Philae lander was designed for in situ analysis of organic molecules on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Twenty-five minutes after Philae’s initial comet touchdown, the COSAC mass spectrometer took a spectrum in sniffing mode, which displayed a suite of 16 organic compounds, including many nitrogen-bearing species but no sulfur-bearing species, and four compounds—methyl isocyanate, acetone, propionaldehyde, and acetamide—that had not previously been reported in comets.

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