Rosetta probe Philae discovers organic molecules on comet


Wall Street Journal
By Gautam Naik

The probe that landed on the surface of a comet has discovered organic molecules, the most rudimentary building blocks of life, according to the German agency involved in the mission.

Philae-landerAn instrument aboard the Philae lander detected the molecules after “sniffing” the comet’s atmosphere. An organic compound is one whose molecules contain the carbon atom, the basis of life on earth.

Scientists are analyzing the data to see whether the organic compounds detected by Philae are simple ones—such as methane and methanol—or a more complex species such as amino acids, the building blocks for proteins. A drill on Philae also obtained some material from the comet’s hard surface, but data about organic molecules from that experiment have yet to be fully analyzed.

Comets contain some of the most pristine materials in the solar system, dating to about 4.5 billion years ago. Previous studies have suggested that comets forge organic material in their dusty atmospheres.

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Apollo 11 Moon Landing & Space Shuttle Party

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Join us at a luncheon celebration to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon (July 20, 1969) and 30 Years (1981-2011) of Supporting Space Shuttle missions.

45th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon/Thirty Years of Supporting Space Shuttle Missions
Place: Greenbelt American Legion Post 136, 6900 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Md. 20770

Date/Time: Sunday, July 27, 2014, Noon – 5pm

Cash Bar: Will be available starting at Noon. You can order at the bar window separating the bar from the banquet hall

Lunch: Buffet starting at 1pm

Menu: Sliced Turkey with Dressing and cranberry sauce, Top Sirloin of Beef, Parsley Potatoes, Green Beans, Fresh Garden Salad, Rolls/Butter and Coffee

Cost: $20.00/per person not later than June 30, 2014. Please include e-mail address on check so we can acknowledge receipt back to you.
First come, first served. When we hit the Legion’s capacity you will be placed on a wait list.

Logistics: Please use the rear entrance of the Legion and sign-in upon arrival. Tables will be available to display your Apollo/Shuttle memorabilia. If you have a Apollo or Shuttle mission badge please wear it.

If you know anyone who supported Apollo and/or Shuttle, please let them know about the party. If you can’t attend, you may send your comments to us by completing the form below and we may have them read at the party.

Tom Janoski
Apollo NOM Emeritus

Get Your Tickets to the Apollo 11 Moon Landing & Space Shuttle Party

Please fill out the form below to reserve your tickets, and we’ll contact you back with the mailing address and contact information.


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Space station experiment identifies microbes that can survive unprotected in space

by Will Parker
Scientists conducting a series of experiments on the International Space Station say that some micro-organisms can survive for long periods exposed to the hostile environment of outer space. The findings, published in the Astrobiology Journal, lend weight to the concept of panspermia, where life on Earth emerged from bacterial colonies transported on comets and asteroids.
The experiments were designed to see whether bacterial hitchhikers on spacecraft were hardy enough to survive in space and contaminate other planets. Currently, spacecraft landing on Mars or other planets where life might exist must meet requirements for a maximum allowable level of microbial life (known as bioburden). These acceptable levels were based on studies of how various life forms survive exposure to the rigors associated with space travel.
“If you are able to reduce the numbers to acceptable levels, a proxy for cleanliness, the assumption is that the life forms will not survive under harsh space conditions,” explains NASA’s Kasthuri J. Venkateswaran. But that assumption may not hold up, as it seems some microbes are hardier than expected.

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