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Xenon isotopes in 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko show that comets contributed to Earth's atmosphere

Abstract : The origin of cometary matter and the potential contribution of comets to inner-planet atmospheres are long-standing problems. During a series of dedicated low-altitude orbits, the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) on the Rosetta spacecraft analyzed the isotopes of xenon in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The xenon isotopic composition shows deficits in heavy xenon isotopes and matches that of a primordial atmospheric component. The present-day Earth atmosphere contains 22 ± 5% cometary xenon, in addition to chondritic (or solar) xenon.
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B. Marty, Kathrin Altwegg, H. Balsiger, A. Bar-Nun, D.V. Bekaert, et al.. Xenon isotopes in 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko show that comets contributed to Earth's atmosphere. Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2017, 356 (6342), pp.1069-1072. ⟨10.1126/science.aal3496⟩. ⟨insu-01670669⟩

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