All the most important building blocks of life have now been found in comets
The observations of the Rosetta probe revealed for the first time solid phosphorus from a comet. Finnish researchers played an important role in the analysis of the measurement data.
With the new discovery, the role of tail stars in the early stages of life is emphasized.
“The result means that all life-critical substances, or CHNOPS elements, have now been found solid in comets. Phosphorus was the last of them. So comets have been able to bring these substances to Earth,” says Harry Lehto from the University of Turku to Stars and Space.
The Rosetta spacecraft, launched in 2004, entered the orbit of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The sonar ceased operations in 2016 when it was lowered to the surface of the comet.
“At the time of Rosetta’s closure, there was still a lot of data to be processed, and it still is. The analysis has been done all the time,” Lehto explains.
The result was obtained with a Rosetta spacecraft COSIMA instrument that studied the composition of dust particles detached from a comet. The particles were collected, imaged under a microscope, and their composition was measured by mass spectrometry.
“My wife and Kirsi Lehto were invited to join COSIMA as experts in astrobiology. I chose to look for phosphorus as my own task. I knew it was difficult but important to find,” Harry Lehto continues.
In the past, CHNOPS elements have been found as solids in asteroids. According to Lehto, comets are even more interesting for life.
Comets contain water and other volatile substances. The microenvironments formed by those collisions may be more conducive to the evolution of life than asteroid collisions.
Article source: https://www.avaruus.fi/uutiset/astrobiologia/suojattu-suomalaistutkijat-mukana-tarkeassa-astrobiologian-tiedetuloksessa-komeetoista-on-nyt-loydetty-kaikki-elaman-tarkeat-rakennusaineet.html
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