Cometary-Orbit Reservoirs of Volatile Elements for Transport to Terrestrial Exoplanets (CORVETTE)


CORVETTE is a dedicated observational-modelling study based on a granted early release science program - IceAge (31 hrs) - with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) of which I am the PI. The goal of this VENI proposal is to interpret unique data of inter- and circumstellar ices in protoplanetary disks to address one of the most pressing questions in science today: how do the building blocks of life form in space and subsequently end up on planetary surfaces within our own solar system? Since the process of star- and planet formation is universal, are these building blocks also delivered to planets around other stars? The focus of the study will be on cometary-orbit reservoirs and the mechanisms capable of incorporating ice species formed in such environments onto planets and their moons. Specifically, I will observe the species carrying the bulk ice mass in all stages of star formation from a molecular cloud to a protoplanetary disk with sufficient sensitivity and resolution to detect as well more complex molecules that are significant precursors to biomolecules. The main deliverables that are expected from this research project are: i) relative ice abundances for all major ice species in each star formation stage, ii) the first inventory of complex, pre-biotic molecules in the solid state in molecular clouds, protostars, and protoplanetary disks, iii) a collated laboratory ice database optimized for use by observers.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. M.K. McClure

Affiliated with

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Team members

Dr. M.K. McClure


01/10/2019 to 30/09/2022