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Philae comet could be home to alien life

By T.K. Randall
July 6, 2015 · Comment icon 13 comments

Could there be alien organisms living on the comet ? Image Credit: ESA
Astrobiologists have suggested that comet 67P may be home to live extraterrestrial micro-organisms.
The potentially groundbreaking revelation is based on an analysis of some of the comet's more unusual surface features such as its organic-rich black crust and icy crater lakes.

Dr Max Wallis of the University of Cardiff and colleague Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe presented evidence at the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales today suggesting that these features are strongly indicative of extraterrestrial micro-organisms living beneath the ice.

"Rosetta has already shown that the comet is not to be seen as a deep-frozen inactive body, but supports geological processes and could be more hospitable to micro-life than our Arctic and Antarctic regions," said Dr Wallis.
Both Philae and Rosetta have found evidence of complex organic molecules on the comet and the processes responsible for several of its geological peculiarities continue to remain a mystery.

"These are not easily explained in terms of prebiotic chemistry," said Prof Wickramasinghe. "The dark material is being constantly replenished as it is boiled off by heat from the sun."

"Something must be doing that at a fairly prolific rate."

Source: Royal Astronomical Society | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hammerclaw 9 years ago
Such extremophiles would have an extraordinary lifecycle. It would also explain the almost immediate appearance of life on Earth as soon the oceans formed. It's nothing but speculation, however.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
His enthusiasm for the subject takes some wind out of the sails doesn't it. Just because he is a rebel, just because his interpretation of the facts is somewhat idiosyncratic, just because the evidence doesn't usually support him and just because almost all other experts don't agree with him doesn't mean he is wrong. It makes it improbable that he is right but not impossible. If he shouts "extraterrestrial micro-organisms," frequently enough there is always the chance he will be right one day.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw 9 years ago
Waspie either you or Saru once posted a link to a simulation displaying the true size of the Universe in scale and I can't seem to find it. Do you have it?
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 9 years ago
If the micros are there, would they survive an entry into an atmosphere such as ours or would they need to be part of a planet forming collision to be viable to produce life and evolve? BTW Waspie - I've been meaning to ask you, is that your cat?
Comment icon #8 Posted by DieChecker 9 years ago
What makes them think that the organic compounds are being replenished? Perhaps when the compounds on the surface are eroded there is more underneath? How does Dr Wallis know that there is cleaner ice underneath, and a lot more organics on top? Perhaps the organic molecules are too heavy to be blasted from the gravity of the comet?
Comment icon #9 Posted by sonofkrypton 9 years ago
i do like the panspermia idea, it seems "Simple" and elegant, however with Wickramsinghe involvement it does place a shadow over the findings i don't know about anyone else but Philae has taken on a character all of it's own and i feel extremely attached to little guy (sad i know) unfortunately when the ancient space craft melds with him and he comes back to earth we're in deep trouble haha
Comment icon #10 Posted by Calibeliever 9 years ago
Just to add ... several scientists have responded to this today with strong words of caution. Going so far as to call it "baseless".
Comment icon #11 Posted by aearluin 9 years ago
It would be amazing if this was true, but, as always, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is as yet not available for this story. There would also be some complex questions as to how such microbial life would have originated and evolved in such conditions. A comet will only have liquid water for short periods when close to the sun, maybe some kind of life could begin in those periods, but how would it adapt quickly enough to the extreme conditions that would soon follow? The extremophiles that we know on Earth probably had millions of years to adapt to the current extrem... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by brogster31 9 years ago
the truth will come out in time about this 1 the government know more than there letting on about this it shock u all
Comment icon #13 Posted by Mikko-kun 9 years ago
Life should be much more probable to survive anywhere, whether a planet or a comet or a moon or an asteroid, underground. There life's sheltered from the winds and weather, all you need is to breathe, absorb a thing that keeps you going. We all have a right to think whatever we want, it's best to think for yourself so you can't blame anyone else for your own shortcomings.

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