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Space & Astronomy

Philae discovers organic molecules on comet

By T.K. Randall
November 18, 2014 · Comment icon 209 comments

The Philae lander has been hard at work. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 German Aerospace Center
Rosetta's companion lander made the discovery after sampling and analyzing the comet's atmosphere.
While Philae's final touchdown on the comet's surface was ultimately successful, its eventual position meant that its solar panels were not receiving enough light to keep it going and that within a few days it would need to go in to sleep mode to keep it alive until the sun was in a more favorable position.

To make the most out of the time available to them the mission team spent the better part of 60 hours conducting experiments and returning as much data as possible before the batteries died.

Among those results was the discovery of organic molecules in the atmosphere just above the comet's surface. This find could indicate that the building blocks of life from which we are all based were originally brought to the Earth by comets much like this one.
"We have collected a great deal of valuable data, which could only have been acquired through direct contact with the comet," said scientific director Ekkehard Kuhrt.

"Together with the measurements performed by the Rosetta orbiter, we are well on our way to achieving a greater understanding of comets."

"Their surface properties appear to be quite different than was previously thought."

Source: Spaceflight Now | Comments (209)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #200 Posted by Zero Fox FK 10 years ago
I'm no Scientist... but that's Alien Life Confirmed, right?
Comment icon #201 Posted by Merc14 10 years ago
Some more news and a short explanation of organic compounds http://www.extremete...e-shutting-down I'm no Scientist... but that's Alien Life Confirmed, right? No, it isn't. There are lot's of kinds of organic compounds, some that are very simple and some that are very complex and these complex types are the buidling blocks of life as we know it but not life itself. The hypothesis is that comets deliver complex organic compounds to planets thus providing the building blocks for life. Panspermia takes this one step further and suggests that comets, asteroids, meteors etc. deliver actual living o... [More]
Comment icon #202 Posted by bison 10 years ago
So it's somewhere between Mars & Jupiter then? Comet 67P C-G is currently about 273 million miles from the Sun. That's roughly midway between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, slightly closer to the latter.
Comment icon #203 Posted by theotherguy 10 years ago
It is thought that most comets come from the hypothetical Oort cloud that surrounds our solar system at 50k+AUs. That's at least 50,000 astronomical units from the sun, where 1 AU is the distance from the sun to Earth, right? That's something like four and a half trillion miles, using round numbers. Just making sure I get my definitions right.
Comment icon #204 Posted by Karasu 10 years ago
Panspermia: in otherwords comets, and meteors imprgenated our solar system. Damn universe, you're a stone cold freak!
Comment icon #205 Posted by Merc14 10 years ago
That's at least 50,000 astronomical units from the sun, where 1 AU is the distance from the sun to Earth, right? That's something like four and a half trillion miles, using round numbers. Just making sure I get my definitions right. Yes that would be pretty close but the Oort cloud has never been seen, only theorized. Short and sweet article on the Oort cloud and why the icy bodies in it sometimes get sent towards the inner planets.http://www.solarviews.com/eng/oort.htm
Comment icon #206 Posted by seeder 10 years ago
Just how far away is this thing? It's been going for like 10 years isn't it, they say, so where is it exactly? (or roughly'll do.) Here's What a Comet 317 Million Miles Away Looks Like to a Landing Spacecrafthttp://www.space.com/27750-rosetta-comet-landing-photo.html
Comment icon #207 Posted by Merc14 10 years ago
Just how far away is this thing? It's been going for like 10 years isn't it, they say, so where is it exactly? (or roughly'll do.) Right now Rosetta is about 317 million miles away heading for the inner solar system at nearlly 30K MPH but has traveled nearly 4 billion miles to get there using gravity assists toi attain the speed of the comet. There is a pretty good show on TV right now (NPR) called To catch a comet that does a great job of explaining the mission and how it got to 67P.
Comment icon #208 Posted by toast 10 years ago
SESAME experiment CASSE records sound of first landing A short but significant 'thud' was heard by the Cometary Acoustic Surface Sounding Experiment (CASSE) as Philae made its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The two-second recording from space is the very first of the contact between a man-made object with a comet upon landing Listen here: http://www.dlr.de/dlr/presse/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10172/213_read-12221/year-all/#/gallery/17248
Comment icon #209 Posted by Jacques Terreur 10 years ago
"dear fellow universe inhabitants, we have pictures and audio of a man-made object touching down on a small rock 500 million kilometers away. What has your civilization achieved today?"


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