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Published June 7, 2023 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Complex organosulfur molecules on comet 67P: Evidence from the ROSINA measurements and insights from laboratory simulations


The ROSINA (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis) instrument aboard the Rosetta mission revolutionized our understanding of cometary material composition. One of Rosetta's key findings is the complexity of the composition of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Here, we used ROSINA data to analyze dust particles that were volatilized during a dust event in September 2016 and report the detection of large organosulfur species and an increase in the abundances of sulfurous species previously detected in the coma. Our data support the presence of complex sulfur-bearing organics on the surface of the comet. In addition, we conducted laboratory simulations that show that this material may have formed from chemical reactions that were initiated by the irradiation of mixed ices containing H2S. Our findings highlight the importance of sulfur chemistry in cometary and precometary materials and the possibility of characterizing organosulfur materials in other comets and small icy bodies using the James Webb Space Telescope.

Additional Information

© 2023 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). This work has been conducted at the JPL, Caltech, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and at the Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. ROSINA would not have produced such outstanding results without the work of the many engineers, technicians, and scientists involved in the mission, in the Rosetta spacecraft team, and in the ROSINA instrument team over the past 20 years, whose contributions are acknowledged. Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. We acknowledge herewith the work of the whole ESA Rosetta team. We would like to thank anonymous reviewers for valuable comments. This work has been supported in part by the NASA/RDAP program (80NM0018F0612) and by the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS). Part of this work was supported by NASA/DDAP program under grant no. 80NSSC21K1015. Author contributions: A.M. wrote the manuscript. A.M. and M.J.P. led the work on laboratory simulations and analyzed the data from laboratory measurements. K.A., M.R., and N.H. analyzed the data from ROSINA-DFMS measurements. K.P.H. built and developed the experimental setup used on laboratory simulations and supervised the experimental work. M.E.B., J.M.E., and J.B. supervised the work. B.L.E., R.H., and J.B. participated in the laboratory work. All authors participated in the interpretation of the results and read and commented on the manuscript. Data and materials availability: The datasets analyzed during the current study together with a user manual for data analysis are available in the ESA-PSA archive (www.cosmos.esa.int/web/psa/rosetta) or the NASA PDS archive (https://pdssbn.astro.umd.edu/data_sb/missions/rosetta/index.html). Laboratory simulations data are available at Dryad (https://datadryad.org/stash/share/q3OXw5x2XIgze7zZ_ss8_-U54pUOzzZFttVrpm8gUzo). All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. The authors declare that they have no competing interests

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Published - sciadv.adh0394.pdf

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August 22, 2023
October 20, 2023