Rosetta detects O2 molecules, probably from solar system’s birth, on 67P
A comet is leaking oxygen molecules that have been buried since the beginning of the solar system.
The Rosetta spacecraft detected O2 around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the first time these molecules have been seen around a comet. The oxygen is probably primordial, trapped in water ice as the comet was assembled roughly 4.6 billion years ago, researchers report in the Oct. 29 Nature. Andre Bieler, a planetary scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues detected the oxygen using a mass spectrometer on board Rosetta, which has been orbiting comet 67P since August 2014.