Rosetta Philae lander detects organic molecules on comet surface

Shane McGlaun - Nov 19, 2014, 5:30am CST
Rosetta Philae lander detects organic molecules on comet surface

After a decade long journey Rosetta was able to insert itself into orbit around its target comet and more recently, it sent its Philae lander down to the surface of the comet to see what the comet is made of. The latest report from the scientists running the Rosetta program is that the Philae lander has detected organic molecules on the surface of the comet. These organic molecules are carbon containing and are the basis of life here on Earth.

The scientists believe that this discovery could explain how the Earth was seeded with the components needed for life early in its own life. The organic compounds were discovered using a German instrument called Cosac that is designed to sniff the thin atmosphere of the comet.

The scientist in charge of the Cosac instrument is Dr. Fred Goessmann and he says that the scientists are still interpreting the results. The team says that analysis of the comet has determined that it is mostly made up of water ice with a thin layer of dust covering that.

Another instrument on the Philae lander is a hammer-like device called Mupus designed to break away the surface of the comet for study. The instrument found that the layer of dust on the comet is 10-20cm thick and underneath is very hard water ice. The ice layer is believed to have a tensile strength similar to that of sandstone. The Philae is currently waiting for sunlight to hit its solar panels for a recharge.

SOURCE: BBC


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