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We might have discovered alien life on a comet

ExpendableYouthExpendableYouth Posts: 2,106 ✭✭✭✭✭
An image issued by the European Space Agency of comet 67PChuryumov-Gerasimenko at a distance of 285km
 An image issued by the European Space Agency of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, at a distance of 285km. Photograph: ESA/PA

Rebecca Ratcliffe and agencies

Sunday 5 July 2015 

The comet landed on by the spacecraft Philae could well be home to an abundance of alien microbial life, according to leading astronomers.

Features of the comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, such as its organic-rich black crust, are most likely explained by the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface, the scientists have said. 

Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange clusters of organic material that resemble viral particles. 

A photo illustration of the Rosetta probe and Philae lander above the 67PChuryumov-Gerasimenko comet during Novembers historic landing

 A photo illustration of the Rosetta probe and Philae lander above the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, during November’s historic landing. Photograph: ESA/ESA via Getty Images

The European Space Agency pulled off a sensational feat of engineering and captured the imagination of space-travel enthusiasts across the world when Philae landed on the comet in November. Since then, the lander has undergone a period of hibernation from which it awoke in June, having recharged its solar panels.

Neither Rosetta nor Philae are equipped to search for direct evidence of life after a proposal to include this in the mission was allegedly laughed out of court. Astronomer and astrobiologist Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe, who was involved in the mission planning 15 years ago, believes people should be more open to the possibility of alien life.

Wickramasinghe said: “Five hundred years ago it was a struggle to have people accept that the Earth was not the centre of the universe. After that revolution our thinking has remained Earth-centred in relation to life and biology. It’s deeply ingrained in our scientific culture and it will take a lot of evidence to kick it over.” 

He and colleague Dr Max Wallis, from the University of Cardiff, believe 67P and other comets like it could provide homes for living microbes similar to the “extremophiles” that inhabit the most inhospitable regions of the Earth.

Comets may have helped to sow the seeds of life on Earth and possibly other planets such as Mars, they argue.

The scientists have carried out computer simulations that suggest microbes could inhabit watery regions of the comet. Organisms containing anti-freeze salts could be active at temperatures as low as -40C, their research shows. 

The comet has a black hydrocarbon crust overlaying ice, smooth icy “seas” and flat-bottomed craters containing lakes of re-frozen water overlain with organic debris. 
Wickramasinghe said data coming from the comet seems to point to “micro-organisms being involved in the formation of the icy structures, the preponderance of aromatic hydrocarbons, and the very dark surface”.

“These are not easily explained in terms of prebiotic chemistry. The dark material is being constantly replenished as it is boiled off by heat from the sun. Something must be doing that at a fairly prolific rate.” 

The astronomers present their case for life on 67P at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.

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    ExpendableYouthExpendableYouth Posts: 2,106 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It is amazing how we can find life in places we thought couldn't support it. The giant tube worms that live at the bottom of the ocean floor near black smokers. It is crazy how life can find a way to flourish, or at least survive.
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    Usaf06Usaf06 Posts: 11,129 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2015
    That's the next virus that wipes out half the planet...then you look like this
    "I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form."
    -- Winston Churchill

    "LET'S GO FRANCIS"     Peter

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    Usaf06Usaf06 Posts: 11,129 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Forgot pic
    "I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form."
    -- Winston Churchill

    "LET'S GO FRANCIS"     Peter

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    ExpendableYouthExpendableYouth Posts: 2,106 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Head shots people... Head shots. B)
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    Usaf06Usaf06 Posts: 11,129 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Zombie land was on before I left the house.. rule # 31, always check the back seat
    "I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form."
    -- Winston Churchill

    "LET'S GO FRANCIS"     Peter

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    onestrangeoneonestrangeone Posts: 2,441 ✭✭✭✭✭
     Double tap!
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    The3StogiesThe3Stogies Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭
    That's pretty cool, water is the basis of life.  
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    matkn293matkn293 Posts: 3,565 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It's amazing how people in society can think that we are the only intelligent life that exists. If we are here, there are others. Maybe not in the direct vicinity of our Galaxy, but it is out there. 

    Life is too short to smoke bad cigars!!!

    Oh when the Blues, Oh when the Blues, Oh when the Blues go marching in!


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    Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat Posts: 8,584 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Cool story.  To me, it only makes sense that the universe would be full of life.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  

    "If you do not read the newspapers you're uninformed.  If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." --  Mark Twain
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    Dark_RoastDark_Roast Posts: 1,070 ✭✭✭
    I caught the last hour of "ET" yesterday. Damn movie always brings a tear to my eye. I believe there has to be other forms of life out there. Just what kind it is I have no idea.
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    ExpendableYouthExpendableYouth Posts: 2,106 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I think it would be hard to phatom that we are the only intelligent life in the universe, not counting simple single celled organisms. 
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    skydiverDskydiverD Posts: 2,713 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Based on our history, it could be hard to argue that we are intelligent life. LOL  :p

    I concur, it's outbthere somewhere. I am sad to think that in my lifetime we may never see it but I would guess at some point down the road, they will reach out to us or vice cersa. 
    How do you like my profile pic Taborski?   @matkn293          
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    webmostwebmost Posts: 7,713 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Life is the opposite of entropy. Entropy breaks patterns life creates and vice versa. As there is entropy everywhere, so also there has to be life everywhere. 

    Hey, after, what, 12 or 15 years in space, a space probe gets to Pluto later this month. Back when that rocket left Earth, Pluto was still a planet.
    “It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions.” —Thomas Jefferson (1808)


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    Dark_RoastDark_Roast Posts: 1,070 ✭✭✭
    And I think Uranius (sp) was pronounced differently. 
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