Water in the Solar System

  • Encrenaz T
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Abstract

Water is ubiquitous in the Universe, and also in the Solar System. By setting the snow line at its condensation level in the protosolar disk, water was responsible for separating the planets into the terrestrial and the giant ones. Water ice is a major constituent of the comets and the small bodies of the outer Solar System, and water vapor is found in the giant planets, both in their interiors and in the stratospheres. Water is a trace element in the atmospheres of Venus and Mars today. It is very abundant on Earth, mostly in liquid form, but it was probably also abundant in the primitive atmospheres of Venus and Mars. Water is found in different states on the three planets, as vapor on Venus and ice (or permafrost) on Mars. Most likely, this difference has played a major role in the diverging destinies of the three planets.

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Authors

  • Thérèse Encrenaz

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