Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:August 6th, 2011 09:32 EST
Oxygen Molecules in Space? As Elusive as Finding a Job in Today`s Economy

Oxygen Molecules in Space? As Elusive as Finding a Job in Today`s Economy

By Ron G Anselm


We all keep hearing the same dismal news daily of the grim job report and the possibility of a double-dip recession that keeps going up and down like watching a large Buoy sitting in the bay on a windy day at the beach. So, what does today`s job report have to do with oxygen molecules in space? Nothing! But for those science buffs that are tired of hearing and reading about how many people are still out of work and the depressing news of this bad economy will be glad to hear that after over two-hundred and thirty years scientist have finally discovered there are oxygen molecules in space.

Oxygen molecules make-up about twenty-percent of the oxygen we breathe and count on to live in our environment. The Herschel Space Observatory`s large telescope along with infrared detectors finally confirmed there are really oxygen molecules floating around in space. The oxygen molecules were found around the Orion star forming complex.

Regular oxygen atoms are very common in space but Molecular oxygen is space is very rare and science has been searching for them as long and if not longer than our great country has been around. "Oxygen gas was discovered in the 1770s, but it`s taken us more than two-hundred and thirty years to finally say with certainty that this very simple molecule exists in space," said Paul Goldsmith, NASA`s Herschel project scientist at the agency`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. (Goldsmith, 2011)

Scientist in the past used every kind of means including balloons, ground and space based telescopes, and anything that may prove this hypothesis only to come up empty handed. Scientist did come close in 2007 when the Swedish Odin telescope spotted what looked to be molecular oxygen in space only once again to come up empty handed and not be able to prove that theory at the time.

The theory proposed by Goldsmith and his team is that oxygen is locked-up in water ice that coats tiny grains of very tiny dust grains. The recent oxygen that was detected by the Herschel telescope was possibly formed after starlight warmed the icy grains which resulted in the release of water which resulted in the conversion into oxygen molecules.

"This explains where some of the oxygen might be hiding," said Goldsmith. "But we didn`t find large amounts of it, and still don`t understand what is so special about the spots where we find it. The universe still holds many secrets." (Goldsmith, 2011)

Space is and always has been a mystery. There are so many different and various things out there that are still not discovered and are unknown to modern science. Just hearing about the confirmed discovery of Molecular oxygen in space gives a little boost in morale to those who love science and can call themselves science buffs. It sure beats hearing about the constant negative news we hear and read about every day."


Goldsmith, P. Herschel Telescope Detects Oxygen Molecules in Space, (

Retrieved 2011.