Rosetta's Comet Baffles Astronomers By Venting Oxygen Into Space

Rosetta's Comet Baffles Astronomers By Venting Oxygen Into Space

The Rosetta probe, currently studying comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has made a curious discovery - the ancient space debris is spewing oxygen into space.

Astronauts are always telling you, "don't take off your helmet in space!" or "there's no air up there, you can't breathe!" Well, research revealed recently suggests those overly cautious safety mongers are entirely wrong. It's time to take off our fishbowls and breathe in that crisp outer space air! [Note: they are not wrong at all, please wear a helmet and carry oxygen in space.]

The Rosetta probe, sent to study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has been sending back fascinating data for several months now. Its most surprising discovery, however, may be its most recent: the ancient piece of space debris, mostly comprised of ice and rock, is venting oxygen molecules into the depths of space.

"It was a big surprise to actually detect the O2," says Andre Bieler, who co-led the study concerning the comet's trail of gas. Bieler and his co-author Kathrin Altwegg are now scanning the 1986 records of Halley's Comet, seeing if molecular oxygen was detected at the time. Halley's Comet is the only other comet to get anything like 67P's up-close treatment.

Check out a little gallery of Rosetta's comet below (courtesy of Space.com), and catch up on the Escapist's coverage of the probe and its Philae lander here.

The finding of oxygen really reshapes much of the thinking surrounding the early solar system. Astronomers had long believed that O2, which is highly reactive with hydrogen, would have been obliterated long before 67P ever formed - more than 4.5 billion years ago.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to take a quick space walk and breathe in some fresh comet-spewed oxygen. [Note: again, please do not do this, you will freeze or boil or asphyxiate.]

Source: CBC News

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The finding of oxygen really reshapes much of the thinking surrounding the early solar system. Astronomers had long believed that O2, which is highly reactive with hydrogen, would have been obliterated long before 67P ever formed - more than 4.5 billion years ago.

Obliterated? I'm pretty sure you used the wrong word there. O2 is highly reactive with hydrogen and should have bonded to form water. Obliterated makes it sound like it's undergoing sudden nuclear fission when exposed to hydrogen.

Hmm. Molecular oxygen certainly likes to bond with hydrogen to form water - but the reaction requires a kick. Heat, UV, some form of energy. Maybe the comet formed before the stellar nursery warmed.

Scientists are only ever allowed to by "baffled" by developments and observations that appear to be contradictory or hard to explain with current thinking.

Never "intrigued", "fascinated", or "surprised" but "baffled" as if finding out the world is more complicated than our current understanding is something that scientists get irritated and shocked by.

The source link is broken, there's a rogue
tag tacked on the end there.

And, yeah, this surprised me as well. The only reason there's oxygen in abundance on Earth is because of plant life. I'd have thought that if there was any free oxygen in space it would have reacted with hydrogen from the solar wind to form water long ago. Where did the oxygen in that comet come from, and how did it get in there?

K12:
Scientists are only ever allowed to by "baffled" by developments and observations that appear to be contradictory or hard to explain with current thinking.

Never "intrigued", "fascinated", or "surprised" but "baffled" as if finding out the world is more complicated than our current understanding is something that scientists get irritated and shocked by.

It's because they have to have the ability to feel other emotions removed to get the job, like how middle management types can only feel "excitement" when something new happens.

That or they don't know any other words, or both. I know they use a dictionary for the procedure when someone gets promoted to middle management.

Obviously, it's a stealth spaceship, and is venting it's interior atmosphere.

Or... Something... >_>

XD

The comet was trying to hold in the belch until it made it out of the solar system but it didn't quite make it.

I like how there's a disclaimer just in case some astronaut actually decided to try what the first article recommends.

I'd be all like, "Go ahead, do it." and let that be that...

 

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