Philae Detects Organic Molecules on Comet

Well, this is pretty neat!
The Philae lander has detected organic molecules on the surface of its comet, scientists have confirmed.

Carbon-containing "organics" are the basis of life on Earth and may give clues to chemical ingredients delivered to our planet early in its history.

The compounds were picked up by a German-built instrument designed to "sniff" the comet's thin atmosphere.

Other analyses suggest the comet's surface is largely water-ice covered with a thin dust layer.

...[T]he team was still trying to interpret the results. It has not been disclosed which molecules have been found, or how complex they are.

But the results are likely to provide insights into the possible role of comets in contributing some of the chemical building blocks to the primordial mix from which life evolved on the early Earth.
Eeeeeeeee that's so cool!

There is also news about Philae's fate, having landed in the shadow of a rock face on the comet's surface, which means its solar panels aren't getting sunlight and its battery will run out of juice in short order:
Scientists are hopeful however that as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko approaches the Sun in coming months, Philae's solar panels will see sunlight again. This might allow the batteries to re-charge, and enable the lander to perform science once more.

"There's a trade off - once it gets too hot, Philae will die as well. There is a sweet spot," said [Professor Mark McCaughrean, senior science adviser to ESA].

He added: "Given the fact that there is a factor of six, seven, eight in solar illumination and the last action we took was to rotate the body of Philae around to get the bigger solar panel in, I think it's perfectly reasonable to think it may well happen."

"By being in the shadow of the cliff, it might even help us, that we might not get so hot, even at full solar illumination. But if you don't get so hot that you don't overheat, have you got enough solar power to charge the system."
I am very excited to see what happens! I mean, I know I am a HUGE NERD and everything, but I cannot stop jittering with enthusiasm every time I get to read about humankind being able to DO SCIENCE on a comet 317 million miles away from Earth. It's just extraordinary.

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