THE MURCHISON METEORITE AND ITS LINK WITH THE ROSETTA SPACE MISSION

Australian avionics systems engineer, Warwick Holmes, recently visited Murchison Heritage Centre to view our Meteorite display.

Warwick, from Sydney, has worked in Europe on spacecraft projects and missions for the past 29 years for European Space Agency (ESA).  He also assisted other engineers to build, test and launch the Rosetta spacecraft over 4½ years which went on to successfully land a probe on a comet (Comet-67P) in May 2014.  It is believed the Rosetta Space Mission is the most significant space mission since the 1969 Moon landings.

During his visit at the Heritage Centre, Warwick emphasised how there is an immense and growing interest – particularly amongst United States space scientists – in the Murchison meteorite which landed and scattered over the Murchison district on 28 September 1969,  just two months following the first Moon landings.

Warwick explained that Rosetta Mission’s most important goal was to confirm the existence of scientists finding 91 extra-terrestrial amino acids measured from the Murchison meteorite, believed to be the core of an evaporated comet.  However, this is only a tiny part of the whole which will continue to challenge scientists for decades to come.

Warwick confirmed that “the Mission’s aim is to answer two very big scientific questions.  Firstly, Where did all the seawater come from, and secondly, Why did life start so quickly after that seawater arrived?  Only 200 million years later – a very short period in biological evolution – life was formed in the oceans.” However, the meteorite which landed near Murchison indicates it isn’t just water that comes from comets.

Later this year, we hope Warwick will be available to give a talk at Murchison Heritage Centre on the Murchison meteorite and its unique qualities, as well as his key role in the aims and achievements of the Rosetta Space Mission.  We will keep you posted.

Margaret Lock, Secretary

Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

Warwick Holmes

Lyndon & Maureen Gregory with Warwick Holmes

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