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Abstract

Mass spectra of cometary dust particles measured by the PIA dust particle analyser aboard the Giotto spacecraft show some unexpected and striking features. First, small particles below 10−14 g are much more abundant than anticipated by models. Second, most of the particles are rich in light elements such as H, C, N and O, suggesting the validity of models that describe the cometary dust as including organic material. Third, the light elements specifically seem to have a low ratio of mass to volume. Three examples of original mass spectra showing typical compositions are given; these have been measured and are compared with a computer-simulated mass spectrum.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, PO Box 103980, D-6900 Heidelberg 1, FRG

    • J. Kissel
    • , K. Büchler
    • , H. Fechtig
    • , E. Grün
    • , E. K. Jessberger
    •  & H. J. völk
  2. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 981 95, USA

    • D. E. Brownlee
  3. Martin Marietta, Denver, Colorado 80201, USA

    • B. C. Clark
  4. Technical College, Munich, FRG

    • K. Hornung
    •  & E. B. Igenbergs
  5. Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, Munich, FRG

    • H. Kuczera
  6. University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NR, UK

    • J. A. M. McDonnell
  7. MPI Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, FRG

    • G. M. Morfill
  8. Arheiliger Apotheke, Messeler Str. 24, Darmstadt, FRG

    • F. R. Krueger
  9. University Bamberg, FRG

    • J. Rahe
  10. ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

    • G. H. Schwehm
  11. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California 91109, USA

    • Z. Sekanina
  12. Dawn Laser Corporation, Santa Barbara, California, USA

    • N. G. Utterback
  13. LBJ Space Center, Houston, Texas 77058, USA

    • H. A. Zook

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About this article

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/321336a0

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