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... what is Panspermia?

Panspermia: The theory that life on the earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space and able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment.

Explorers and biologists have shown that life on Earth exists not just on land and in the sea, but also in every nook and cranny conceivable: in the deepest, darkest, coldest, hottest, most acidic and alkaline places to be found on the planet.

The big question is: where did life come from? Did it arise spontaneously on Earth when conditions were favourable to its development, or was it transported to Earth from another region of the universe?

The latter theory, called Panspermia, suggests that the prerequisites for life have been distributed throughout the Universe by cosmological processes, and that Earth was seeded with the elements for life by meteor strikes during the early history of the Solar System, when Earth was bombarded frequently with meteors.

Life hitching a ride through space to Earth is not as farfetched as you may imagine. In 2014, for example, astronomers detected a complex organic molecule, isopropyl cyanide, in a star-forming gas cloud 27,000 light years away. And in April 2015, other complex organic molecules were discovered in the proto-planetary disc surrounding a young star.

Other biological research into life on Earth has shown that it is extremely hardy, even withstanding the vacuum of space. One bacterium, for example, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the toughest form of life known. Its name is Deinococcus Radiodurans. It can withstand radiation levels 15 times higher than cockroaches have survived, not to mention deep cold, extreme heat, dehydration, the strongest acids, and even space.

Research has also shown that life can remain dormant for extended periods of time. In 2014, a dormant virus, estimated to be about 30,000 years old, was discovered frozen, 100ft deep in the permafrost of Siberia. However, when it was thawed, it became infectious again. Its name: Pithovirus Sibericum.

Primordial Earth

 Primordial Earth - Image by Ron Miller

Also in 2014, British researchers in Antarctica were able to revive samples of moss that had been dormant for 1,500 years. This is the longest period of time that a plant has been known to survive in stasis.

Therefore, considering these discoveries about life on Earth and in the Universe, we should not reject Panspermia out of hand.

Related links:

  2. Isopropyl cyanide molecule found in interstellar space
  3. Complex organic molecules in young star system
  4. Deinococcus Radiodurans - Genome News Network
  5. Deinococcus Radiodurans - NASA Science News
  6. Pithovirus Sibericum
  7. Antarctic moss revived after 1,500 years
  8. Example of an extreme environment on Earth where life is thriving
  9. Life in extreme environments
  10. Astrobiology Magazine
  11. Guinness World Records
  12. Comet 67P Contains Ingredients For Life
  13. Could Interstellar Ice Provide Answer To Birth Of DNA?