Rosetta Probe finds Building Blocks of Life on Comet 67P

Monday, May 30, 2016

Outer Life

European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta Probe has found clues to major ingredients that are crucial for the origin of life. The space agency announced that the probe mission has discovered some basic blocks of life on the Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The ingredients discovered include phosphorus and amino acid glycine which is commonly found in protein – a key component of DNA and cell membranes. “This is the first unambiguous detection of glycine at a comet,” said Kathrin Alwegg, principal investigator of the ROSINA instrument on Rosetta which made the measurements and lead author of the paper published in Science Advances. Glycine was previously detected in 2006 in Comet Wild-2 but ‘possible terrestrial contamination’ made the analysis tough.

Other finds include hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen cyanide. Rosetta’s findings are important because of the unchanging nature of comets when compared to Earth. “The important point is that comets have not really changed in 4.5 billion years: they grant us direct access to some of the ingredients that likely ended up in the prebiotic soup that eventually resulted in the origin of life on Earth,” said paper co-author Hervé Cottin.

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