Fall 2009:

Nov. 13, '09 "Small Bodies and Big Impacts: Asteroids, Comets and the Origin of Earth's Water", Dr. Humberto Campins, Professor, Physics Department, University of Central Florida, FL


The role of asteroids and comet impacts on the origin of Earth's water and organic molecules is reviewed. Earth is believed to have formed dry, and magma oceans probably destroyed any primordial organics on Earth. The oldest clear evidence for water on Earth is about 3.85 Ga, right after the "Late Heavy Bombardment" (LHB). Asteroid and comet impacts during the LHB probably contributed significantly to Earth's water and organic inventory. Evidence for this contribution is found in the composition of meteorites and comets. The abundance and variety of organic solids in asteroids and comets also point at a significant contribution to the organic inventory of the early Earth. However, the pieces of this puzzle do not all fit into a neat picture and several questions remain unanswered.

Humberto Campins
Provost Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Head of the Astronomy Group at the University of Central Florida

Humberto Campins is currently Provost Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Head of the Astronomy Group at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. He is also adjunct faculty at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona, Tucson. Professor Campins studies comets, asteroids, and other small bodies in the solar system. One of his current interests is the role that comets may have played in the origin of water and organic molecules on earth and Mars.

He received his Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona (1982). After a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Maryland, Professor Campins spent five years at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson. He previously was on the faculty at the University of Florida (1989-98), were he became Professor (1997) and directed the Florida Space Grant Consortium (1994-98). Subsequently, Professor Campins worked as Program Officer at the Research Corporation, a philanthropic foundation for the advancement of science (1998-2002).

Professor Campins' scientific publications include 85 refereed articles in scientific journals, including Nature and Science. He has also published in the popular press.