The nature of cometary organics is of great interest, both because these materials are thought to represent a reservoir of the original carbon-containing materials from which everything else in our solar system was made and because these materials may have played key roles in the origin of life on Earth. Because these organic materials are the products of a series of universal chemical processes expected to operate in the interstellar media and star-formation regions of all galaxies, the nature of cometary organics also provides information on the composition of organics in other planetary systems and, by extension, provides insights into the possible abundance of life elsewhere in the universe. Our current understanding of cometary organics represents a synthesis of information from telescopic and spacecraft observations of individual comets, the study of meteoritic materials, laboratory simulations, and, now, the study of samples collected directly from a comet, Comet P81/Wild 2.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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