Scientists who were skeptical at the beginning of the mission are now probably scratching the back of their heads to the news. Recent data has made astronomers claim the comet lander Philae and alien life have met. But to what end?
The skeptics laughed at the idea that there may be life on a comet, and therefore rejected the idea to fit the probe with life detection devices. As it turns out, not only is the surface of the comet 67P covered with a black crust rich in organic compounds, but the interior of the space object is very likely to be filled with alien life.
Now, don’t think I’m talking about any intelligent form of life. Not even animals. Yet, alien life in its purest form – microbes. Both Philae, the lander, and Rosetta, the European Space Agency space craft orbiting the comet, have reportedly detected “clusters” made up of organic material that very closely resemble what could be viral particles.
However cold, with temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius, the small little organisms seem to thrive in the shelter of the comet’s thick crust.
Two scientists, Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe, and Dr. Max Wallis, both from the University of Cardiff, are firm believers that comets like 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenk are perfect for microbial life. They state that the comets provide an environment which favors the development of such microorganisms, as they see it similar to regions of the Earth deemed inhospitable.
Professor Wickramasinghe was one of the scientists who helped with the drafting of the mission some 15 years ago. He was the one who argued for a “very inexpensive” device that would help detect life on the comet. Yet, his proposal was laughed at back then, being ultimately dismissed as a very bizarre idea.
Therefore, neither Rosetta, nor Philae, can be sure of what they see, since the crafts are not equipped to deal with organic material. This misfortune is deepened by the presupposition that microbial life from these comets may have been the origin of life on Earth, or possibly Mars in the early stages when it still had an ocean.
The lander Philae is still, after all this time, double the hero. Due to miscalculations, and the fact that it bounced upon landing on the comet, it did not receive enough sunlight in the initial stages of its mission. After seven months of hibernation, though, it unexpectedly woke up. Now, the little probe is continuing to give us exciting new info about this remnant from the formation of our Solar System.
Image source: guim.co.uk