Two top astronomers presented their findings Monday to the Royal Astronomy Society that the comet carrying the Philae lander could be home to alien life, with the discovery of microbial organisms trapped beneath the ice.
The comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has an organically rich black crust, which scientists say is explained by living organisms existing beneath the icy surface. Another lander, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta craft, reported similar readouts of living organisms on the comet.
Neither craft can effectively search for life on the comet with their current tools after a proposal to do so was laughed out of court, The Guardian reports. The Philae lander was awoken in June when the solar panels recharged eight months after it landed on the comet, and reported the discovery to scientists back home.
Astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe and his colleague Max Willis from the University of Cardiff believe that the comet could be home to alien life and that people should recognize the possibility that alien life could exist outside Earth.
“Five hundred years ago it was a struggle to have people accept that the Earth was not the centre of the universe,” said Wickramasinghe. “After that revolution our thinking has remained Earth-centred in relation to life and biology. It’s deeply ingrained in our scientific culture and it will take a lot of evidence to kick it over.”
He and Willis believe that 67P is just one of many comets that could host microbial ‘extremophiles’ that live in the extreme, inhospitable areas of Earth. Their studies show that if the organisms reached a temperature of just -40 C they could become active and awaken from their frozen state.
“Rosetta has already shown that the comet is not to be seen as a deep-frozen inactive body, but supports geological processes and could be more hospitable to micro-life than our Arctic and Antarctic regions,” said Willis.