• Prof. Kathrin Altwegg - University of Bern -"Deciphering the Rosetta Stone: What 67P Tells Us About
    the Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System"
  • Prof. David Jewitt - UCLA - "From Kuiper Belt to Comet"
  • Prof. Geoff Blake - Caltech - "Protoplanetary Disks and Cometary Precursors"
  • Dr. Bjorn Davidsson - JPL - "Morphology and Geology of Short-Period Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko"


Comets are scattered icy bodies enriched with complex organic matter, some of which is prebiotic. The reservoirs of comets are Kuiper Belt Objects (short-term comets) and the Oort Cloud (long-term comets), which are in the coldest regions of our Solar System beyond 30 AU (astronomical units). Comets are highly porous (over 70%) and go through thermal extremes between 1 AU and 5 AU. In spite of this, a comet’s nucleus is expected to remain at ~30 K, the ambient temperature of KBOs and Oort Cloud. During the formation of solar systems, the protoplanetary disks undergo material exchange and star-formation, all of which are yet to be fully understood. The outstanding questions of how tiny ice grains in the dense molecular clouds of the interstellar medium ended up as kilometer-size icy bodies during the protoplanetary phase is critical for our understanding of how a comet’s interior is composed – both physically and chemically. Astronomical observations and modeling help to a great extent to improve our understanding. However, a comet’s nucleus sample secured at very low temperatures such that its physical and chemical composition is unaltered, would provide concrete answers to the role of comets in the formation of our solar system and potential origin of life pathways on Earth. This short course will focus on various stages of a comet’s life.

Short Course Presentations

Kathrin Altwegg
University of Bern

Deciphering the Rosetta Stone: What 67P Tells Us About the Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System
(4.7 MB .pdf)

Geoff Blake

Protoplanetary Disks & Cometary Precursors
(40.7 MB .pdf)

Björn J. R. Davidsson

Morphology and Geology of Short-Period Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
(4.6 MB .pdf)

David Jewitt
From Kuiper Belt to Comet
(14.3 MB .pdf)