It's confirmed: Space is bubbling with the potential for life. The Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared—on board the Herschel Space Observatory—has sent a high resolution analysis of the Orion Nebula's chemistry. It has scientists very excited.
It is astonishing to see how well HIFI works. We obtained this spectrum in a few hours and it already beats any other spectrum, at any other wavelength, ever taken of Orion. Organics are everywhere in this spectrum, even at the lowest levels, which hints at the fidelity of HIFI. The development of HIFI took eight years but it was really worth waiting for.
That's Frank Helmich, HIFI principal investigator of SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, getting his pants wet over his new toy. The Orion spectrum—capture back in January—contains all the molecules needed for the creation of life, "water, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, methanol, dimethyl ether, hydrogen cyanide, sulphur oxide, sulphur dioxide and their isotope analogues."