The Philae lander has detected organic molecules on the surface of its comet, scientists have confirmed.
Carbon-containing “organics” are the basis of life on Earth and may give clues to chemical ingredients delivered to our planet early in its history.
The compounds were picked up by a German-built instrument designed to “sniff” the comet’s thin atmosphere.
Other analyses suggest the comet’s surface is largely water-ice covered with a thin dust layer.
The European Space Agency (Esa) craft touched down on the Comet 67P on 12 November after a 10-year journey.
Dr Fred Goessmann, principal investigator on the Cosac instrument, which made the organics detection, confirmed the find to BBC News. But he added that the team was still trying to interpret the results.
It has not been disclosed which molecules have been found, or how complex they are.
But the results are likely to provide insights into the possible role of comets in contributing some of the chemical building blocks to the primordial mix from which life evolved on the early Earth.
Preliminary results from the Mupus instrument, which deployed a hammer to the comet after Philae’s landing, suggest there is a layer of dust 10-20cm thick on the surface with very hard water-ice underneath.
remember philae..thats the lander that didnt..its gone to sleep now..which is spacespeak for its dead..but it did detect molecules..as you would expect..everything is made up of molecules..
“It has not been disclosed which molecules have been found, or how complex they are.”
oh..its secret..because they are nothing to interesting i bet..
“Carbon-containing “organics” are the basis of life on Earth and may give clues to chemical ingredients delivered to our planet early in its history.”
so that theory is now fact eh? that comets brought water and life to earth and helped create the oceans!..must have been fair size comets that did that and didnt dry up on entry or impact?
“Comets, trans-Neptunian objects or water-rich meteoroids (protoplanets) from the outer reaches of the main asteroid belt colliding with the Earth may have brought water to the world’s oceans”
how do you bring water to oceans?..thats like bringing sand to a beach..