Posted by : Koshime Tuesday, 21 July 2015


**Update: 30th July 2000 BST**

"One of the big questions, though, is this material made on the comet? Or is it made first in space and then incorporated into the comet? We don't know the answer to that yet."

Results from the lander's seven instruments are published in a special collection of papers in the journal Science.

67P Composition

Born from the detritus of the primordial solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago, the icy comet has a fluffy coating over a hard-grained surface pocked with gas-spewing sinkholes

Electromagnetic signals fired through the centre of the comet showed the object had a uniform structure that was highly porous. The interior is 75% empty space

One team running a device called COSAC found no fewer than 16 organic compounds, four of which had not been known to exist on comets before

  1. Hydroxyethanal is "an efficient initiator in the prebiotic formation of sugars", they write.
  2. Methanenitrile is "a key molecule in the prebiotic synthesis of amino acids and nucleobases and even offers an elegant pathway to sugars".
  3. PTOLEMY discovered a simple polymer of formaldehyde (in the same ratio of carbohydrates to sugars found on Earth

Ancestral material

Prof Ian Wright of the Open University, who leads another instrument, Ptolemy, said the results were "really interesting".

It indicated the presence of a polyoxymethylene (POM), an organic polymer, or chained compound, on the comet surface.
POM has been suggested as playing a key role in prebiotic chemistry. But so far Philae has produced no evidence of amino acids, which chain together to form proteins, the building blocks of life.
"I see this cometary material that we're analysing as frozen primordial soup. It's the kind of stuff that if you had it, and warmed it up somehow, and put it in the right environment, with the right conditions, you may eventually get life forming out of it.
"What we may be looking at here is our abiological ancestral material - this is stuff that went into the mix to produce life.
"In many ways it's quite a humbling thing to be working on, because this is life before life happened."
PTOLEMY - instrument discovered polyoxymethylene, a string of relatively simple molecules forming a polymer of formaldehyde: (C-2H-O) repeated. "That same ratio of elements occur in carbohydrates and sugars so it's very interesting and implicated in the biological cycle we have on Earth."


Newly published data show that Philae came to rest with three feet pointing up in partial shadow where it was unable to keep itself warm or generate sufficient electricity from its solar panels. Just three days after landing it shut down.
Although the probe began communicating again on June 24 it has been silent since July 9 and scientists now fear it will never make contact again.

"The landing site is dominated by metre-scale blocks, with a large elongated cliff, starting around one metre away. These large structures are responsible for Philae being partially shadowed, drastically limiting its energy intake for both warming up the internal compartment and supplying the solar panels."
However the final touchdown site was much harder than the original surface which meant that a hammer and drill on board Philae could not penetrate ground and gather samples as planned.
The image team, led by Dr Jean-Pierre Bibring, from the Universite Paris-Sud in France, described how Philae seemed to be "in a hole about its own size, partially shadowed by nearby boulders or cliffs".
One foot was probably stuck in a "local cavity", another rested on a sun-lit surface, and the third was "pointing upward".

  1. ESA

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is unusual.

The images alone suggest its no normal asteroid. But before we get into all that, let us journey across the timeline of 67P. Comet 67P has two distinct lobes, attached by a thinner neck. The larger of the two lobes, the body, and the smaller lobe, known as the head, give the comet a look similar to a plastic rubber duck. It appears as though this double-lobed shape is common among comets.

  • 67P water vapour is different (from other planets and earth)
  • origin of life has been strongly hinted at 
  • organic rich black crust (beneath ice) suggests alien microbial life forms*
  • orbiting Rosetta spacecraft is said to have picked up "strange clusters of organic material that resemble viral particles"

The comet has a black hydrocarbon crust overlaying ice, smooth icy “seas” and flat-bottomed craters containing lakes of re-frozen water overlain with organic debris.

The Ambition

Prior to landing on 67P, this promotional film was released by ESA. And therein, lies a scripted tale, easter eggs and an ambition (for humanity) by no other than Aidan Gillen "littlefinger" of HBO Game of Thrones fame. Date 24th Oct 2014

In the name of old Gods
Update: July 19 2015

67P is divided into 19 parts and named after Egyptian gods following the use of the Rosetta stone of the Rosetta spacecraft.

"Just as the Rosetta Stone provided the key to an ancient [civilization], so ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will unlock the mysteries of the oldest building blocks of our Solar System — the comets"

"We picked Hapi for the neck since Hapi is the Nile god, and we figured that he should separate the lobes in the same way that the Nile splits Egypt into an eastern and western side,"

Regions on the body lobe of the comet are named after Egyptian gods, and regions on the head are named after goddesses, according to El-Maarry. So far there are 19 regions, which fall into five categories: dust-covered regions (Ma'at, Ash and Babi); one region covered in pits and circular structures that are underlain with brittle materials (Seth); regions with big depressions (Hatmehit, Nut and Aten); smoother regions (Hapi, Imhotep and Anubis); and those with rocklike surfaces (Maftet, Bastet, Serqet, Hathor, Anuket, Khepry, Aker, Atum and Apis).

The region names are mostly those of lesser-known Egyptian gods and goddesses, which El-Maarry said was intentional because many of the more popular deity names have already been used by other space missions. 

Source: Gods among the stars

Rosetta 3D view of 67P

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