Friday, 7 August 2015

Philae Space Probe Finds 'Building Blocks of Life' on a Distant Comet


Philae Space Probe – Building Blocks of Life

Some scientists are suspicious that comets `seeded’ life on Earth and have now moved a step closer in proving that theory. The Philae space probe, on comet 67P, found the so-called, `building blocks of life’. Professor Monica Grady of the Open University informed the Times that they had found things which were on the pathway to building sugars and amino acids which tend to be important in the construction of DNA and this is the confirmation that building blocks of life are present in comets.

This fearless probe observed water, carbon monoxide and 14 other organic compounds which included four of which had never been seen on a comet, earlier. Information published in the respected journal Science, recently also portrayed that the comet is only loosely packed with about 80% of its mass made up of empty space which is covered by a 20 cm layer of dust coating, a hard cratered surface with rocks and boulders. The temperature ranges from -143 to 183 C. at daytime and though the environment is not favourable to life, Professor Ian Wright, lead scientist states that the chemicals which are present on the comet could spark the development of living organisms.

Comet Loaded with Raw Materials –To Assemble Complex Organic Molecules

According to him, if the material are placed on the surface of a primitive body like the Earth and provide the right amount of heat and whatever is needed, possible, it could form life. In November, the space explorer had crash landed on the comet as first bouncing off prior to managing in anchoring itself to the speeding rock’s surface. The scientists immediately set to work conducting 63 hours of experiments till the system became inactive due to lack of power from the Sun.

 The craft woke briefly in June on capturing adequate energy from the sun to start transmitting once again. However, the connection by then had been lost and it is not sure if Philae would be communicating again. The craft has used two separate instruments for sniffing molecules at the time of its mission on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

A senior scientific adviser at the European Space Agency, Mark McCaughrean, informs that the `comets are loaded with all the raw materials such as water, CO2, ammonia, methane, that are needed to assemble more complex organic molecules, perhaps sparked by UV-photons from the Sun or cosmic rays, or in the shock that occurs when a comet hits the surface of a planet like the young Earth’.

Comets Good Place for Building Blocks of Molecules

Researchers have stated in an article published in the journal Science that, it was not clear whether the complex molecules that were found in the comet were made in the early solar system or formed later on. Mr McCaughrean has commented that either way it seems that comets are pretty good places to find the building blocks of molecules which later on could be used for life.

The scientists have also gained new visions in the comet’s rocky ground together with its unexpectedly hard surface which could prove vital to future comet missions. Philae project manager Stephan Ulamec has added his comments saying that `they have definitely learned at least one thing with this first comet landing – bouncing is a bigger problem than a possible sinking into the ground’.