Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:

Planetary science

The history of air

Giant impacts on Earth destroyed the envelope of gases surrounding the fledgling planet — so how has the modern-day planet regained its atmosphere? The answer, it seems, is that all was not lost.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Genda, H. & Abe, Y. Icarus 164, 149–162 (2003).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Ahrens, T. J. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 21, 525–555 (1993).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Melosh, H. J. & Vickery, A. M. Eos 69, 388 (1988).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Chen, G. Q. & Ahrens, T. J. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 100, 21–26 (1997).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Cameron, A. G. W. Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. XXIII, 199–200 (1992).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Pepin, R. O. Icarus 126, 148–156 (1997).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Pepin, R. O. Icarus 92, 2–79 (1991).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to H. J. Melosh.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Melosh, H. The history of air. Nature 424, 22–23 (2003).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing