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.

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 October 22, 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 October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
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