The German scientists on Tuesday said that the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first comet lander Philae had ‘sniffed’ organic molecules rich in carbon element, which forms the basis of life on Earth, before going dead as its primary battery exhausted.
According to the scientists, it was still unclear whether the organic molecules included the complex compounds that build proteins.
The main aim behind the Rosetta mission is to search for the carbon-based compounds and the possibility of life or its ever existence.
The comet’s atmosphere was sniffed by the COSAC gas analyzing instrument aboard Philae. The tool has also detected the first organic molecules after landing, according to the DLR German Aerospace Center.
According to the scientists, the Philae lander also carried drilling operations into the comet’s surface while hunting for organic molecules. Meanwhile, it is not clear whether Philae successfully managed to deliver a sample of its findings to COSAC for analysis.
The MUPUS tool, which is intended for measuring the density, mechanical and thermal properties of the comet’s surface, showed it was not as soft as earlier believed.
MUPUS tool may be used again in case enough sunlight penetrates to charge Philae’s batteries. The scientists are hoping for the best as they look forward to comet approaching the sun.
Philae lander created history after it successfully landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after concluding a 10-year space journey aboard the Rosetta spacecraft. The robot completed its 57-hour mission on the surface of the comet on Saturday after sending back crucial data on the Earth following a series of experiments before its battery ran out.
The mission intends to decode the details about origin of planets and how life evolved. According to the scientists, comets are age-old and hold crucial information about the formation of sun, planets and overall the solar system as they have preserved early organic molecules just like a time capsule.