Science

Rosetta’s Comet Shows Signs Of Life

By Aunindita Bhatia , May 30, 2016 07:00 AM EDT

Scientists recently revealed the presence of organic substances found on a comet. This positively points to the possibility of life existing elsewhere in the universe. The discovery was made on Comet 67/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, also known as Rosetta's Comet, after the European Space Agency's spacecraft, Rosetta, which has been observing the comet for almost 2 years.

According to Science Advances, the probe found the amino acid glycine in the clouds surrounding the comet. There were also traces of other organic compounds as well as the element phosphorous, which are instrumental in the formation of life.

This is the first time that the presence of glycine in space has been confirmed by scientists. In 2009, NASA's spacecraft Stardust had landed on Earth after collecting samples from the comet Wild 2. Although the sample contained traces of glycine, it was thought to have been contaminated upon its contact with Earth.

The research was headed by Kathrin Altwegg, a scientist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and the principal investigator for the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument on the Rosetta. She stated in the study that the discovery of glycine in a comet implies its presence elsewhere in the universe where planets and stars are born, which could mean that life exists on other planets in the universe. The team of scientists intend to analyze their findings further, as well as look for the presence of more organic compounds on the comet, reported Space.com following an interview with Altwegg.

For years, scientists have speculated that the origin of life on Earth could have been the result of asteroids and comets crash-landing on here millions of years ago. This discovery is a definite step forward in proving that theory true, meaning that a comet carrying the essential ingredients of life, as does the one in question, must have crashed on Earth and started the process that created life. 

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