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article imagePhilae comet possible home to alien life is false say scientists

By Caroline Leopold     Jul 6, 2015 in Science
The Guardian reported that scientists believed that comet 67p could be inhabited by alien life. Scientists involved with the Rosetta mission shot down the claims and the Guardian reversed its position, writing that there is no life on the comet.
News that's too incredible to be true travels fast.
News reports are circulating that Rosetta's Philae space probe that landed on comet 67p may be sitting on alien microbial life. The Guardian reported on the provocative comet story on Sunday. In the story, the Guardian discussed how the comet has frozen water -- beneath its hydrocarbon crust -- that may contain organic matter.
Other news outlets grabbed onto the headline and the news is spreading around the world.
While the news stirs enduring hope that there is life beyond Earth, in this case, the story isn't true. Astronomers scrambled to replace science fiction with facts.
The Guardian published another article on Monday, reporting that there is no life on the comet and there is a better explanation for the comet's structure.
In an email to the news outlet, Uwe Meierhenrich of Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France wrote:
“No scientist active in any of the Rosetta instrument science teams assumes the presence of living micro-organisms beneath the cometary surface crust.”
Meierhenrich is one of the investigators using Philae's instrument, which was built to chemically analyze the comet.
Chandra Wickramasinghe of University of Buckingham and Max Wallis of University of Cardiff, seem to be the only scientists who believe life may exist on the comet. The scientists said they wanted life-detection device to be sent with the Rosetta mission, but were not taken seriously.
The current mission would be able to detect life, if there were life to be found. “We can thereby well distinguish between the biological and astrochemical formation of organics,” wrote Meierhenrich to The Guardian.
Wickramasinghe is a controversial figure in science. Chemist Chris Lee from Ars Technica blasted The Guardian for being "breathtakingly stupid" for entertaining the "wacky" theory and neglecting background research on the scientist who "has a long history of making claims about extraterrestrial life."
Wickramasinghe claimed in 2001 that he had discovered alien microbes in dust collected by a balloon floating 41 kilometers (25 miles) above India. Later, he suggested that the 2003 SARS epidemic had originated from a virus floating down from space.
These claims are merely theories and have not been substantiated with any scientific data.
Chris Lee predicts that the claims of life on the comet will disappear. However, the news that people would want to hear, rather than what is true will probably survive.
More about comet 67p, Philae comet lander, philae lander, The guardian, rosetta mission
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