Space dust may transport life between worlds

November 20, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Life on our planet might have originated from biological particles brought to Earth in streams of space dust, a study suggests.

Fast-moving flows of that continually bombard our planet's atmosphere could deliver tiny organisms from far-off worlds, or send Earth-based organisms to other planets, according to the research.

The streams could collide with in Earth's atmosphere with enough energy to knock them into , a scientist has suggested.

Such an event could enable bacteria and other forms of life to make their way from one planet in the solar system to another and perhaps beyond.

The finding suggests that large asteroid impacts may not be the sole mechanism by which life could transfer between planets, as was previously thought.

The research from the University of Edinburgh calculated how powerful flows of – which can move at up to 70 km a second – could collide with particles in our atmospheric system.

It found that small particles existing at 150 km or higher above Earth's surface could be knocked beyond the limit of Earth's gravity by space dust and eventually reach other planets.

The same mechanism could enable the exchange of atmospheric particles between distant planets.

Some bacteria, plants and small animals called tardigrades are known to be able to survive in space, so it is possible that such organisms – if present in Earth's upper atmosphere – might collide with fast-moving space dust and withstand a journey to another planet.

The study, published in Astrobiology, was partly funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

"The proposition that space dust collisions could propel organisms over enormous distances between planets raises some exciting prospects of how life and the atmospheres of originated. The streaming of fast space dust is found throughout planetary systems and could be a common factor in proliferating life," says Professor Arjun Berera.

Explore further: Dust from a comet has been discovered for the first time on the Earth's surface

More information: Space dust collisions as a planetary escape mechanism. arxiv.org/abs/1711.01895

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15 comments

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Nik_2213
5 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2017
But not a mention of Fred Hoyle (–2001) or Chandra Wickramasinghe ...
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2017
@Nik
heck! i forgot all about Chandra Wickramasinghe! thanks for the reminder.

.

.

in before the eu cult claims BS about astrophysics and then floods with gish-gallop!
Mark Thomas
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 20, 2017
If tens of thousands of stars and their planets passed us by over the eons, this article suggests it is possible Earth seeded life on some of them. That could mean the tree of life here is genetically related to corresponding trees of life out there on many now distant worlds. This sounds completely like science fiction, but shockingly, it may actually be correct.

As time passes, it seems the galaxy is potentially getting more and more interesting. For me personally, it makes me wish we could get beyond LEO and start finding some real answers. I hope that someday we will reach the point where not just the logic of space exploration makes sense to the average person, but a more gut-level desire to get the answers starts to become widespread.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2017
@Mark T
I hope that someday we will reach the point where not just the logic of space exploration makes sense to the average person, but a more gut-level desire to get the answers starts to become widespread
unfortunately i think there are only two choices that can happen at the moment that will take us to the stars, considering the current state of affairs in the world:

it will be the appeal of potential riches

or survival and necessity

.

i still cringe when certain people denigrate fundamental research (like CERN or exploration) as a waste of money becuase they don't understand how it affects everything around them
Mark Thomas
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2017
Capt. Stumpy, it seems survival and potential riches (fear and greed, if you will) are always likely to play key roles. I acknowledge that crewed travel to the stars is probably a very long ways off, so our focus for the foreseeable future should be to get beyond LEO to Mars and the rest of the inner solar system. As you appreciate, we don't need a brand new field of science, e.g., Warp Drive Physics, to explore the inner solar system, we simply need to decide it is worth the cost and follow through.

One thing is for certain, we will never reach the stars if we never get beyond LEO. Even though we can't see the whole path to the stars, we need to keep pushing forward. Unfortunately, many do not agree and advocate doing nothing at least until life here on Earth is somehow perfected. Of course that position ignores the idea that some of the answers we need to improve things here are actually out there.
Mark Thomas
4 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2017
"i still cringe when certain people denigrate fundamental research (like CERN or exploration) as a waste"

Me too. For a society so obviously in need of better solutions, we need to pursue every avenue open to us to find them. Often we end up surprised at where the answers come from.
Osiris1
not rated yet Nov 20, 2017
I want to be able to eat some Centuarian sourced avocados, limon, serrano peppers...... guacamole from an earthstyle planet circling Proxima Centuari. Would be real good with tortillas made with maize from Rigel2. Maybe even have humanoids out there among the stars too, just like our science fiction stories like Star Gate.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2017
@Mark T
so our focus for the foreseeable future should be to get beyond LEO to Mars and the rest of the inner solar system
absolutely
perhaps one day this can be more of a planetary endeavor rather than a national one

i sure as h*ll would love to be one of the explorers or colonists!
i think i'm going to start a letter campaign complaining to my senator because physically disabled folk shouldn't be excluded from exploration in space!
LOL
Unfortunately, many do not agree and advocate doing nothing at least until life here on Earth is somehow perfected
funny thing about that: you adapt to your environment, and one thing that is constant is change, so there is no such thing as "perfected", but folk just don't want to accept that

personally, i would love to have a few physical modifications for adaptation to space, but i also know that is way down the road

oh well - hopefully my grandkids will be able to take the plunge
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2017
Oh boy! Panspermia, one more time. Cause no fantasy is to stupid to not be revived again and again.

Cause everyone refuses to learn from bad experiences. "Go ahead, let's try again. Moldering in the grave has to have improved the zombie's temperament. Right?"

None of you are willing to do to the hard work and share the common burdens of a civil society to rehabilitate this biosphere?.

Instead you bluster about getting everyone else to supply the funding and resources and inventions to propel your awesome personages to a new world.

You might want to consider how many times fame and fortune led to starvation, disease and mass murder. After all, we are the Species, Homo Anthropophagus.

I would take you guys more seriously, if you had any grasp of logistical planning and organization. As shown by the great migrations of history. Especially the Mormon efforts. When you've got a plan, agreed upon by a large majority of volunteers? Then I would listen.
Mark Thomas
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2017
"i sure as h*ll would love to be one of the explorers or colonists!"

Agreed, but I would be completely thrilled just to know that somebody is going to go. I think the media and politicians are going to be shocked at how much interest an interplanetary flight inspires. I am confident that I am not the only one that is sick of the unending news of corruption, stupidity and disasters. It would be so cathartic to watch people doing some incredibly brave to push the frontiers back for all.

Mark Thomas
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2017
rrwillsj, you appear to be one of those people who believe life here needs to be perfected before we explore space. You should ask yourself what makes you so certain that some of the answers we need won't come FROM the exploration of space? If you are wrong about this, it could be a fatal error. If nothing else, I would hope you would agree our society could use all the inspiration and unifying themes it can get.

I suggest that instead of coming up with reasons to hold off doing something good like exploring space, why not come up with reasons to hold off doing something bad?
yep
1 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2017
in before the eu cult claims BS about astrophysics and then floods with gish-gallop!


With an article full of physics defying nonsense and, or unfalsifiable assumptions based in theology,"ex nihilo" (Big Bang), it's hard to not say something to you consensus stooges.

Fossil evidense showing us the early life on this planet along with a spores deflecting UV rays, surviving outer space, and growing without visible light energy makes a good case for Panspermia.

thingumbobesquire
not rated yet Nov 21, 2017
Intriguing to examine the potential of interconnected biospheres via the route of roads of organic space dust. As though evolution is inherent in pre-established dynamic harmonics of the universe as Leibniz hypothesized.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (5) Nov 21, 2017
I'm sorry MT, but where ever you go? You're going to find yourself and other fallible humans.

I support a sustainable space program based upon drones and waldoes, robots and automated facilities for space industries.

I hate being the realist curmudgeon about the hope for human space travel but biology does not have any chance at long-term survival off the Earth.

Based upon the behavior of previous explorers? You will have to enslave millions of people. Your fellow humans, sending them to horrible deaths to carve out your kingdoms in the sky. Cause there ain't no convenient Orion slavegirls waiting for you to arrive and ravish them.

Yes sir, can't wait to see what kind of crew the pressgangs will get for your umpteen billion dollar spaceship emptying out the drunktanks.

This article is a prime example of the fantasy of escaping our mortality. Not a shred of evidence is offered to support the speculations and witless conclusions by the writers of this article.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2017
I hate being the realist curmudgeon about the hope for human space travel but biology does not have any chance at long-term survival off the Earth
@rrwillsj
not sure I agree with you here. now, if you would have said it didn't have a chance "as we are now", I would have to agree, but as it is written it is be silly IMHO because it would have to assume we would never evolve

evolution has taken us from a shrew-like creature living in holes to a shrew-like creature on two legs hunched over a computer living in holes above ground (jk) so it stands to reason that the future holds further evolution, especially if we take to the stars.

there are plenty of essay's that explore this topic that are interesting: https://www.space...ion.html

http://www.busine...s-2015-6

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