This is turning into quite a week for alien enthusiasts. First there was the news that NASA’s probe on Pluto encountered an unexplained anomaly and went into Safe Mode. Then there was the story about how aliens – if they exist – probably look just like us. Now comes speculation that the Philae comet could be home to extra-terrestrial life forms. The comet’s organic-rich black crust indicates that there might be microbial organisms beneath its icy surface. Chandra Wickramasinghe, a friend of Arthur C. Clarke often described as a “maverick astronomer” (read: nutjob) for his out-of-the-box thinking on several scientific matters, believes that data from the comet suggests “micro-organisms being involved in the formation of the icy structures, the preponderance of aromatic hydrocarbons, and the very dark surface.”
Wickramasinghe’s theory is based on the idea of extremophiles, micro-organisms that manage to survive at extremely cold temperatures, such as in Antarctica (and by extension, comets in the frigid environment of deep space). Could this be the evidence of ETs we’ve been searching for? Others are unconvinced. Still, though, it’s possible, right? After all, as Wickramasinghe points out, people used to believe Earth was flat, so who knows what discoveries have yet to happen.