First Polymer in Space Identified in Comet Halley

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Science  07 Aug 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4815, pp. 628-630
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4815.628


The heavy-ion mass spectrum obtained in the inner coma of comet Halley with the PICCA instrument on the Giotto spacecraft has been examined. Short polymer chains of polyoxymethylene and their decay products are identified as the source for the spectrum with six mass peaks between about 45 and 120 atomic mass units. The properties of polyoxymethylene are consistent with many of the unexpected observations in the coma.