After locating Philae, astronomers get excited about its organic matter findings. The small lander made a landing to an icy comet called 67-P back in 2014. Soon, it disappeared from the radars. Now, astronomers found it in a hole on 67-P. They also revealed impressive data collected by Philae which indicates the presence of organic material on the icy comet.
The last time astronomers saw Philae was in November 2014, following release by the Rosetta space explorer. It then disappeared from the radar, running out of battery.
Philae was located by Rosetta in a crevasse. The data sent back to Earth by Philae shows that complex organic molecules exist on the comet’s surface. Luckily, the comet-exploring device Philae was found right before running out of funding and fuel.
Scientists say the organic elements are very complex, and come in formulas different from Earth organic compounds. This took scientists by surprise, as they had expected simpler organic compounds.
The organic matter is made of sodium, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, iron and silicon mixed with carbon and a high quantity of hydrogen. This is an interesting mix, and it contains the building blocks of life. The organic matter is solid and comes in big macromolecular compounds- according to Herve Cottin, one of the people in charge of the Rosetta mission.
The compounds were detected in specks of icy dust on the comet 67-P. This discovery is not even fully understood by the scientific community. The data collected by Philae has been beamed back to Earth, but it looks like it’s going to take a lot more years ahead for researching and understanding what Philae has found.
Rosetta is the premiere mission to a comet which gave us clear evidence of organic matter from the particles on 67-P. The dust grains collected by Philae are called Kenneth and Juliette.
Rosetta will continue to orbit the 67-P comet, where Philae keeps on exploring particles. Finally, Rosetta will run out of fuel and crash into the 67-P.
The specks of icy dust were collected with Rosetta’s spectrometer, back in 2015. But it was only now that the data reached Earth.
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Image Source – Wikipedia