Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Probe Could Reveal Comet Life, Scientists Claim

Date:
July 3, 2005
Source:
Cardiff University
Summary:
Scientists at Cardiff University, UK, believe a NASA mission could reveal living matter in the icy layers beneath the surface of a comet. NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will make a historic encounter with Comet Tempel-1 on 4th July, when a metre-long projectile will crash into the comet and tunnel through its outer layers, producing a crater and a plume of gas and dust.

Cardiff (UK) scientists are playing a major role in a NASA mission, which they believe could reveal living matter in the icy layers beneath the surface of a comet.

Related Articles


NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will make a historic encounter with Comet Tempel-1 on 4th July, when a metre-long projectile will crash into the comet and tunnel through its outer layers, producing a crater and a plume of gas and dust.

UK astronomers involved in monitoring the comet before, during and after the impact and interpreting the results include Cardiff University's Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and Dr Max Wallis at the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology. They will conduct their study through instruments on the mother spacecraft.

The Cardiff scientists predict that Deep Impact will verify their theory that the outer crust of the comet will consist of asphalt-like material with permafrost beneath. The small icy fragments blasted out by the impact will include organic matter, they suggest.

The mainly copper projectile will hit the comet at 25,000 miles per hour and will penetrate 15-20 metres into the surface before exploding. The comet will remain intact despite losing a huge amount of material -- 100,000 tonnes from a 100 metre diameter crater, and the impact is not expected to alter the comet's orbit.

"Not only is Deep Impact a spectacular experiment, it is also a test for our long-standing arguments," added Professor Wickramasinghe. "It will show, we believe, that a comet is not a rubble pile, nor a conglomerate of ices, but a porous mass of organics and ice under the black asphalt crust."

Comets are thought to have accumulated from a mixture of ices and organic interstellar dust at the time the solar system was formed some 4.6 billion years ago.

"This material is quite porous, so it is daring again to predict that subsurface ponds or lakes form transiently due to heat penetrating the exterior crust. We can thus expect biology on comets to have similarities with antarctic biology," added Professor Wickramasinghe.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cardiff University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cardiff University. "NASA Probe Could Reveal Comet Life, Scientists Claim." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050702215050.htm>.
Cardiff University. (2005, July 3). NASA Probe Could Reveal Comet Life, Scientists Claim. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050702215050.htm
Cardiff University. "NASA Probe Could Reveal Comet Life, Scientists Claim." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050702215050.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) The Geminids meteor shower lights up the skies over the Changbai Mountains in northeast China. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Defense Satellite Launches from California

Raw: Defense Satellite Launches from California

AP (Dec. 13, 2014) A U.S. defense satellite launched from California's central coast on Friday after weather delays caused by a major storm that drenched the state. (Dec. 13) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins