The finding could also have implications for the hunt for life on other planets
She said the finding could also have implications for the hunt for life on other planets. Many scientists have assumed the presence of oxygen and methane is a good indication of life, because those molecules are a by-product of primitive life forms.
But the abundance of both on comet 67P suggests that those two molecules alone shouldn’t automatically be taken as evidence of life, said Altwegg.
Sara Seager, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who wasn’t involved in the research, said the findings were a “wake-up call” because O2 has long been top of the list of molecules sought by scientists hoping to find evidence of life on other planets.
“The findings will add fuel to the fire for an already ignited debate about O2’s false-positive scenarios,” she added.