PerspectivePlanetary Science

Dwarf planet Ceres and the ingredients of life

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 692-693
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal4765

eLetters is an online forum for ongoing peer review. Submission of eLetters are open to all. eLetters are not edited, proofread, or indexed.  Please read our Terms of Service before submitting your own eLetter.

Compose eLetter

Plain text

  • Plain text
    No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Author Information
First or given name, e.g. 'Peter'.
Your last, or family, name, e.g. 'MacMoody'.
Your email address, e.g.
Your role and/or occupation, e.g. 'Orthopedic Surgeon'.
Your organization or institution (if applicable), e.g. 'Royal Free Hospital'.
Statement of Competing Interests

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Enter the characters shown in the image.

Vertical Tabs

  • RE: Planetary volatiles and prebiotic synthesis

    Küppers review (1) of the paper of De Sanctis et al. (2) suggests there have been (and are) difficulties with providing a source of Earth’s volatiles because Earth “formed dry”. There can be little doubt that Earth certainly has fewer volatiles than it would have if formed from some kind of average mix of “modern” meteoritic material (3, 4), which may or may not indicate formation from anhydrous sources. The source of the known volatiles may well be late-accreting objects from the asteroid belt, as suggested by the presence of abundant volatiles on Ceres, but accretion almost certainly involved late additions of various sized objects, from small meteorites to asteroids. This probably added a percent or more of Earth’s total mass in an accretionary tail (5) over 100 million years or more, following a much more energetic early phase, which possibly involved a moon-forming impact within the first 50-100 million years of Earth’s formation (6). In fact, a meteorite mix similar to the inventory of Antarctic meteorites, which may be our best guess at average compositions for late-accreting material, is sufficient to explain all of Earth’s volatiles without the need for a large, volatile-rich object or objects (3, 4). It is also clear that the presence of specific classes of organic compounds on potentially accreting bodies, in particular amino acids, etc., is not required as a source of pre-biotic molecules (3, 4). The conditions of accretion, and the nature of likely accreting...

    Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.

Related Content