Dear Dr. Alessandria (Rotundi) GIADA’s Principal Investigator : I enjoyed your BLOG at http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2014/08/13/giada-touches-the-comet/ and congratulate you and the Rosetta Team for your skill and determination.
I am updating WIKIPEDIA and have a question on the dust particles. I understand that contrary to popular belief, there ARE some experiments on Rosetta which will in fact show how NASA and ESA since 2013 really are “Beginning the Difficult Endeavor of Seeking the Signs of Life”.
BUT I would appreciate your guidance on how far ESA (and you) will be able to analyse the dust particles perhaps using this diagram as a guide for “layman understanding”.
Ie do your experiments only provide data relevant to organic and then perhaps complex molecules? Or would you be able to detect RNA? Or even “see” Viruses or Bacteria?
You already write : From the measured momentum of the impacts, it was possible to estimate the sizes of the collected grains, which range from a few tens of microns (comparable to the width of a human hair; size of Bacteria) up to a few hundreds of microns across (about 0.35 millimetres). See below :
Bacteria and archaea are 1->100 microns
Viruses 10nm -> 1 micron
Although 67P is a short period comet, it is possibly the result of an ancient massive planetary impact and as such it would be reasonable to hypothesize that you should be able to measure complex molecules of RNA/DNA – perhaps even viruses and bacteria, and maybe fossilized diatoms. Would Rosetta or Philae have experiments that could see or test for such objects?