A Space Ocean

Comet Hartley 2 has been thrust into the limelight during the last couple of weeks after a report on it published by Nature. The comet has caused a bit of a problem for NASA scientists. And the problem .... Well, the water it contains is more like Earth's water than water on other comets. The problem is deuterium, the heavier isotope of hydrogen. The handful (six or so) of comets that have had their water content analysed seem to have twice as much deuterium. ...

Cold Isotope Chemistry

Isotopes react in the same way, don't they? Chemical reactions are unaffected by the isotopic composition so the percentage of different isotopes of the same element in a substance would be the same as the percentage of each naturally occurring isotope. Well, this is true on earth but it is not the case in space, deep space where the temperature is really low and the concentration of atoms very very small. In effect, one isotope will become more reactive than the other. Scientists have ...