Scientists Sniff Smelly Comet

8:39 minutes

Combine the stench of a horse stable, some rotten eggs, and a little formaldehyde, and you have the scent of Comet 67P/C-G. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has detected what scientists describe as a rich array of molecules in the comet’s coma, including ammonia (NH3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and methane (CH4). Kathrin Altwegg, principal investigator of the ROSINA instruments—which sniffed out the comet’s odor—describes what these findings could help us understand about how our solar system, and even life itself, came to be.

Segment Guests

Kathrin Altwegg

Kathrin Altwegg is principal investigator on the Rosetta mission’s ROSINA instrument at the University of Bern in Bern, Switzerland.

Meet the Producer

About Becky Fogel

Becky Fogel is a newscast host and producer at Texas Standard, a daily news show broadcast by KUT in Austin, Texas. She was formerly Science Friday’s production assistant.

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