Astronomers say comet 67P may be home to microbial life
When the exploratory craft Philae landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, it sparked a sense of wonder and imagination among many.
Astronomers Chandra Wickramasinghe and Max Willis examining the findings of Philae and its mother ship Rosetta say there's compelling evidence that the comet is hosting microbial life.
The case for alien life is being made based in part on observations of the celestial body's crust.
Comet 67P's icy surface is covered in a black organic material, which is somehow regenerated after being burned off by the sun.
According to Wickramasinghe, "Something must be doing that at a fairly prolific rate."
The team believes the microbes responsible live below the comet's layer of ice.
Wickramasinghe notes that although such a habitat is decidedly extreme, there's evidence of organisms living in such conditions on Earth.
Researchers directly involved with the mission have dismissed the claims of the two astronomers, saying that Comet 67P's environment is far too intense for any such forms to survive.