Tags: philae | lander | organic | molecules | comet

Philae Lander: Organic Molecules, Base of Life, Found on Comet

By    |   Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 08:10 PM

The Philae comet lander has detected organic molecules containing carbon on the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, according to German scientists.

A goal of the mission is to determine whether the carbon-based compounds that support life were brought to Earth by comets. Scientists don’t yet know whether the organic molecules detected include protein compounds.

“There has long been indirect evidence of organic molecules on comets as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms have been found in comet dust,” John Zarnecki, a space scientist at the Open University involved with the mission, said, according to The Guardian. “It has not been possible to see if these are forming complex compounds before and if this is what has been found then it is a tremendous discovery.”

An instrument on Philae also suggests that the comet’s surface is a thin layer of dust atop what may be ice.

"It's within a very broad spectrum of ice models. It was harder than expected at that location, but it's still within bounds," Mark McCaughrean, senior science adviser with the European Space Agency, told BBC News. "People will be playing with [mathematical] models of pure water-ice mixed with certain amount of dust."

The discoveries were made before the Philae's battery ran out. Scientists hope to gather more data once the comet moves closer to the sun, if enough light can reach its solar panels to recharge the probe.

Twitter users were fascinated by the news.







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The Philae comet lander has detected organic molecules containing carbon on the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, according to German scientists.
philae, lander, organic, molecules, comet
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2014-10-18
Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 08:10 PM
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