Comet 67P’s abundant oxygen more of an illusion, new study suggests

When the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft discovered abundant molecular oxygen bursting from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) in 2015, it puzzled scientists. They had never seen a comet emit oxygen, let alone in such abundance. But most alarming were the deeper implications: that researchers had to account for so much oxygen, which meant reconsidering everything they thought they already knew about the chemistry of the early solar system and how it formed. A new analysis, however, shows Rosetta’s discovery may not be as strange as scientists first imagined. Instead, it suggests the comet has two internal reservoirs that make it seem like there’s more oxygen than is actually there.

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