De­cod­ing comets

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

Phi­lae lan­der's mis­sion ended early—within two weeks of land­ing on comet 67P/Chury­movGerasi­menko—after its bat­ter­ies ran out. But it man­aged to de­liver a full set of re­sults about the comet. Sci­en­tists from the Euro­pean Space Agency, which is lead­ing a con­sor­tium to find out more about the com­po­si­tion of comets and how they in­ter­act with the sun, are now analysing the data. So far they have de­tected what might be com­plex car­bon com­pounds on the sur­face of the comet. This sup­ports a view that comets may have brought key chem­i­cals to Earth to kick-start life.

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