Volatile element delivery to the terrestrial planets – constraints from isotope anomalies

Cosmochemical investigations on the heritage of volatiles in Earth, Mars, and the Moon

The dynamical evolution of the solar system is recorded in the elemental and isotopic composition of asteroids and planets. For deciphering this record, nucleosynthetic isotope anomalies in planetary materials recently emerged as a particularly useful tool, because they allow to directly trace material flow in the solar system, and as such have led to profound new insight into the dynamics of the solar protoplanetary disk and the accretion history of the terrestrial planets.

However, the use of nucleosynthetic isotope anomalies as tracers is still under-explored with regard to volatile elements, such that first-order questions about the origin, timing, and delivery mechanisms of the (life-enabling) volatile element budget in the terrestrial planets remain unresolved.

The PhD student at MPS will address these issues by conducting isotopic analyses of planetary samples from asteroids, Mars, Moon, and the Earth, making use of our new in-house state-of-the-art wet chemistry clean-rooms and mass-spectrometer facilities. Previous experience in isotope geo-/cosmochemistry is desirable.

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