Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Scientists throw water on astronomer’s claims about alien life on Philae’s comet

Evidence that a comet carrying a European spacecraft is home to an abundance of microbial life “is flimsy at best,” according to The Guardian.

Astrobiologist Chandra Wickramasinghe said the comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, had an organic-rich black crust that was most likely explained by organisms living beneath the icy surface, reported The Guardian on Monday.

But The Guardian later reported that the vast majority of experts agreed that there’s no evidence of any life on the comet.

“No scientist active in any of the Rosetta instrument science teams assumes the presence of living micro-organisms beneath the cometary surface crust,” Uwe Meierhenrich, an analytical chemist at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in France, told The Guardian.

“Scientists are rightly fascinated by the search for life elsewhere, and the possibility of the delivery of life to Earth from elsewhere remains an intriguing line of enquiry. However all measurements from Rosetta or by Earth-based telescopes on comets can be explained by much simpler chemical and physical processes than involving extra-terrestrial life,” said Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of Queens University, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

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