Research report 2012 - Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

Sources of water in the outer solar system

Hartogh, Paul

Planeten und Kometen

Its unprecedented sensitivity enabled the Herschel Space Observatory to provide unique solar system observations. Herschel made the first measurement of the hydrogen isotopes D/H in a Jupiter family comet. Unexpectedly the determined value is consistent with the one in the Earth oceans. We conclude that comets are the possible suppliers of the terrestrial water. At the same time Herschel discovered a large water torus, centered on Saturn’s E-ring. It seems to be a medium transporting water originating from cryovolcanic activity of the moon Enceladus into Saturn’s and Titan’s atmospheres.

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