Philae Lander Detects Organic Molecules On Comet 67P

Posted: Jul 31 2015, 5:33am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 31 2015, 5:39am CDT , in Latest Science News


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Philae Lander Detects Organic Molecules on Comet 67P
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  • Organic Matter Detected on the Surface of Comet 67P

The Philae Lander has detected organic matter on the surface of Comet 67P.

The world’s first landing on a comet has managed to send home a rich plethora of information. Among the data is the presence of organic molecules. The Philae Lander planted itself on Comet 67P.

It took a couple of jerks to land on the comet. Then the examination of the ice and dust on the comet began in earnest. The battery supply of Philae lasted for 60 hours and then went dim. A large amount of data got collected.

Many organic compounds were on the comet’s surface. We have to be careful lest this mean that life was present on the comet. This is not the case at all. There is the possibility of life on earth being the result of a comet which collided with it.

This event took place during the 4.6 billion years it took to form the solar system. It is a possibility that such a comet could have been the basis of life on earth.

"One could probably say that comets with such a composition do not work against life," Fred Goesmann, a Philae scientist and co-author of one of the studies, told Mashable via email. "If such cometary material falls onto a planet in the right environment, emerging life could make use of it."

Comets are early phenomena of the universe. That is why they are such an interesting bunch of objects for most scientists. At present there are two theories. The first one says that hot springs on earth led to the formation of life. The other one is that a comet impact led to life on earth.

The original stuff necessary for life could have been there all along. Philae detected over a dozen and a half compounds. These included acetone and propionaldehyde. The measurements took care and precision.

"As far as I am aware the two main theories about the development of complicated organic chemistry on Earth are a) hot springs in deep oceans and b) external delivery by comets/meteorites," Goesmann wrote. "Our findings add a bit to the side that b) should not be ruled out."

The discovery of organic matter on the surface of the comet is cause for celebration. It is an exciting discovery. The drilling mission failed. Philae took to scouring the surface structure of the comet.

Afterwards, Philae went dead. Scientists still kept up the hope that it might have some weak signals which would reach earth. But it appears that such was not the case. It is out of order for better or for worse.

Now astronomers will have to arrange for newer probes. They might scan the heavenly bodies for clues. Life is a fine-tuned thing. The discovery of a few organic molecules does not mean anything in particular.

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