Researchers Find Final Missing Ingredient for Life In a Comet
The mission was executed and controlled from Earth.
Science & Tech
We have long pondered how life came to be on our lovely planet and what we know so far is that all biological molecules on Earth consist of six chemical elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur (CHNOPS). In the past, we have found most of these elements in comets.
Four of these (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen) are the main ingredients of carbonaceous asteroids while the fifth (sulfur) was discovered in a chemical analysis of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is in this same comet that researchers have now found the sixth and final missing element of life: phosphorus.
An important first
"This is the first time that life-necessary CHNOPS elements are found in solid cometary matter. Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur were reported in previous studies by the Cometary Secondary Ion Mass Analyzer (COSIMA) team from e.g. organic molecules," stated a press release from the University of Turku regarding the find.