Scientists: Rosetta's comet has ingredients to create life

Research on comets and asteroids have suggested that many other heavenly bodies have the potential of harboring life.

Alex Bourque | May 31, 2016

Rosetta's comet came quite close to the earth in 2012. This allowed scientists to take a better look at it. However, this year the Rosetta satellite has discovered that the comet has traces of amino acids and phosphorous on its crust after it came even closer.

Amino acids are defined as the building blocks of life. They combine to form proteins and organic molecules. Phosphorus forms the wall of cells. The two are thought to be key ingredients in the formation of life.

The discovery has led to the further claim that scientists should stop looking specifically at planets for life. Research on comets and asteroids have suggested that many other heavenly bodies have the potential of harboring life.

Kathrin Altwegg, a comet expert says this is the first time they have seen glycogen on a comet. "This is the first time we have seen glycogen on a comet," he said. "But to be fair, we never really looked for it on comets. This discovery was purely accidental."

Glycogen is a fatty substance that only forms into gasses state when exposed to temperatures higher than 150 degrees Celsius. Rosetta's comet does not get to such temperatures and is quite a cold body. Without glycogen in gaseous form, the possibility of a spark of life is highly unlikely.

The glycogen being is a solid form, is also the reason it has never been detected before by the Rosetta. The rise in temperature has resulted from the comet coming closer to both the sun and the earth than ever recorded before.

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