Rosetta Probe Directly Discovers Organic Molecules on Comet

Philae-bw
Gautam Naik reports: The probe that landed on the surface of a comet has discovered organic molecules, the most rudimentary building blocks of life, according to the German agency involved in the mission.

“A study of the comet’s organic materials ‘will help us to understand whether organic molecules were brought by comets to the early earth,’ which could have kick-started life here.”

An instrument aboard the Philae lander detected the molecules after “sniffing” the comet’s atmosphere. An organic compound is one whose molecules contain the carbon atom, the basis of life on earth.

“We are very confident that in coming months we’ll get more sun and power and Philae can be reactivated.”

— Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager and scientist at the German Aerospace Center

Scientists are analyzing the data to see whether the organic compounds detected by Philae are simple ones—such as methane and methanol—or a more complex species such as amino acids, the building blocks for proteins. A drill on Philae also obtained some material from the comet’s hard surface, but data about organic molecules from that experiment have yet to be fully analyzed.

Comets contain some of the most pristine materials in the solar system, dating to about 4.5 billion years ago. Previous studies have suggested that comets forge organic material in their dusty atmospheres.

A study of the comet’s organic materials…(read more)

WSJ

Write to Gautam Naik at gautam.naik@wsj.com

 


2 Comments on “Rosetta Probe Directly Discovers Organic Molecules on Comet”

  1. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    Wow that is incredible. It means that life may possibly exist on other planets!

  2. […] The Butcher Gautam Naik reports: The probe that landed on the surface of a comet has discovered organic […]


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