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Title: Panspermia  
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Subject: Red rain in Kerala, Astrobiology, RNA world, Abiogenesis, Directed panspermia
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Illustration of a comet (center) transporting a bacterial life form (inset) through space to the Earth (left)

Panspermia (from Greek πᾶν (pan), meaning "all", and σπέρμα (sperma), meaning "seed") is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids, comets,[1][2] planetoids,[3] and also by spacecraft, in the form of unintended contamination by microbes.[4][5]

Panspermia is a evolution begins. Panspermia is not meant to address how life began, just the method that may cause its distribution in the Universe.[6][7][8]


  • History 1
  • Proposed mechanisms 2
    • Radiopanspermia 2.1
    • Lithopanspermia 2.2
    • Accidental panspermia 2.3
    • Directed panspermia 2.4
    • Pseudo-panspermia 2.5
  • Extraterrestrial life 3
    • Hypotheses on extraterrestrial sources of illnesses 3.1
    • Case studies 3.2
    • Hoaxes 3.3
  • Extremophiles 4
    • Research in outer space 4.1
      • ERA 4.1.1
      • BIOPAN 4.1.2
      • EXOSTACK 4.1.3
      • EXPOSE 4.1.4
      • Rosetta 4.1.5
      • Phobos LIFE 4.1.6
  • Science fiction 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


The first known mention of the term was in the writings of the 5th century BC Greek philosopher Anaxagoras.[9] Panspermia began to assume a more scientific form through the proposals of Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1834),[10] Hermann E. Richter (1865),[11] Kelvin (1871),[12] Hermann von Helmholtz (1879)[13][14] and finally reaching the level of a detailed hypothesis through the efforts of the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (1903).[15]

Fobos-Grunt spacecraft in 2011. Unfortunately, the spacecraft suffered technical difficulties soon after launch and fell back to Earth, so the experiment was never carried out. The experiment would have tested one aspect of panspermia: lithopanspermia, the hypothesis that life could survive space travel, if protected inside rocks blasted by impact off one planet to land on another.[159][160][161][162]

Science fiction

  • Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers (1955) and the subsequent film adaptations describe spores drifting through space to arrive on the surface of Earth, though the premise is most fully discussed in the second version Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 film).
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin's series the Hainish Cycle (1964 - 2014), Earth and other planets are seeded by the Hain using genetic engineering.
  • Michael Crichton's 1969 novel, The Andromeda Strain, is based on the panspermiatic premise of a meteor bringing an alien virus to Earth. The phrase "Andromeda Strain" has become a shorthand for alien or mysterious diseases.
  • Stephen King's short story Weeds (1976), later adapted into the Creepshow vignette "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" (1982; starring King,) involves a meteor crashing to Earth which carries with it a virulent plant/fungus which spreads rapidly.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "The Chase" (season 6, episode 20, April 26, 1993), the common humanoid form and genetic compatibility of alien species throughout the Alpha Quadrant is revealed to have resulted from directed panspermia by an earlier species of intelligent humanoid progenitors who seeded the many planets with their own DNA.
  • Tess Gerritsen's novel, Gravity (1999), involves the exposure of astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, to a chimera based on Archaeons, that were recovered from the Galapagos Rift.
  • The plot of 2001 American science fiction comedy Evolution follows college professor Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and geologist Harry Block (Orlando Jones) who investigate a meteor crash in Arizona. They discover that the meteor is harboring extraterrestrial life which is evolving very quickly into large, diverse and outlandish creatures.
  • The plot of the 2001 short film Horses on Mars centers on microbes as characters spreading into the inner solar system from Mars four billion years ago, with the main character making it to Venus while his friends land on Earth. His friends on Earth successfully evolve and send him a message via the Venera 13 lander, and later eventually make the trip back home to Mars as space-faring creatures, but without the main character, whose unsophisticated attempt to make it back to Mars ends in failure.
  • In the reimagined
  • The premise of Gareth Edwards's 2010 film Monsters is that a NASA deep space probe crashes, bringing back with it an alien species requiring the U.S. and Mexican military to quarantine a large district of the border region.
  • The opening sequence of Ridley Scott's 2012 Alien prequel, Prometheus depicts a humanoid species, referred to as 'the Engineers', seeding what is presumably the early Earth by disintegrating the body of one of their members and spilling his DNA into the water of the planet. At the climax of the film it is revealed that for unknown reasons the Engineers deemed their experiment to have been a failure and intended to end it by eradicating all life on Earth.

See also


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Further reading

  • Warmflash, D.; Weiss, B. (24 October 2005). "Did Life Come from Another World?".  
  • Crick F, 'Life, Its Origin and Nature', Simon and Schuster, 1981, ISBN 0-7088-2235-5
  • Hoyle F, 'The Intelligent Universe', Michael Joseph Limited, London 1983, ISBN 0-7181-2298-4

External links

  • A.E.Zlobin, 2013, Tunguska similar impacts and origin of life (mathematical theory of origin of life; incoming of pattern recognition algorithm due to comets)
  • Francis Crick's notes for a lecture on directed panspermia, dated 5 November 1976.
or Phobos LIFE The

Phobos LIFE

[8][7] Notwithstanding, other scientists think it will be an opportunity to gather evidence for one of panspermia's hypotheses: the possibility of both active and dormant microbes inside comets.[158] In 2014, the


A separate experiment on EXPOSE called Beer was designed to find microbes that could be used in life-support recycling equipment and future "bio-mining" projects on Mars. It carried group of microbes called OU-20 resembling cyanobacteria genus Gloeocapsa, and it survived 553 days exposure outside the ISS.[157]

EXPOSE is a multi-user facility mounted outside the International Space Station dedicated to astrobiology experiments.[140] Results from the orbital mission, especially the experiments SEEDS[152] and LiFE,[153] concluded that after an 18-month exposure, some seeds and lichens (Stichococcus sp. and Acarospora sp., a lichenized fungal genus) may be capable to survive interplanetary travel if sheltered inside comets or rocks from cosmic radiation and UV radiation.[140][154] The survival of some lichen species in space has also been characterized in simulated laboratory experiments.[155][156]

Location of the astrobiology EXPOSE-E and EXPOSE-R facilities on the International Space Station


If shielded against solar lithopanspermia hypothesis.[43]

The German EXOSTACK experiment was deployed in 7 April 1984 on board the Long Duration Exposure Facility statellite. 30% of Bacillus subtilis spores survived the nearly 6 years exposure when embedded in salt crystals, whereas 80% survived in the presence of glucose, which stabilize the structure of the cellular macromolecules, especially during vacuum-induced dehydration.[43][151]

EXOSTACK on the Long Duration Exposure Facility satellite.


BIOPAN is a multi-user experimental facility installed on the external surface of the Russian Foton descent capsule. Experiments developed for BIOPAN are designed to investigate the effect of the space environment on biological material after exposure between 13 to 17 days.[146] The experiments in BIOPAN are exposed to solar and cosmic radiation, the space vacuum and weightlessness, or a selection thereof. Of the 6 missions flown so far on BIOPAN between 1992 and 2007, dozens of experiments were conducted, and some analyzed the likelihood of panspermia. Some bacteria, lichens (Xanthoria elegans, Rhizocarpon geographicum and their mycobiont cultures, the black Antarctic microfungi Cryomyces minteri and Cryomyces antarcticus), spores, and even one animal (tardigrades) were found to have survived the harsh outer space environment and cosmic radiation.[147][148][149][150]


  • The survival of spores treated with the vacuum of space, however shielded against solar radiation, is substantially increased, if they are exposed in multilayers and/or in the presence of glucose as protective.
  • All spores in "artificial meteorites", i.e. embedded in clays or simulated Martian soil, are killed.
  • Vacuum treatment leads to an increase of mutation frequency in spores, but not in plasmid DNA.
  • Extraterrestrial solar ultraviolet radiation is mutagenic, induces strand breaks in the DNA and reduces survival substantially.
  • Action spectroscopy confirms results of previous space experiments of a synergistic action of space vacuum and solar UV radiation with DNA being the critical target.
  • The decrease in viability of the microorganisms could be correlated with the increase in DNA damage.
  • The purple membranes, amino acids and urea were not measurably affected by the dehydrating condition of open space, if sheltered from solar radiation. Plasmid DNA, however, suffered a significant amount of strand breaks under these conditions.[144]

The Exobiology Radiation Assembly (ERA) was a 1992 experiment on board the European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA) on the biological effects of space radiation. EURECA was an unmanned 4.5 tonne satellite with a payload of 15 experiments.[143] It was an astrobiology mission developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). Spores of different strains of Bacillus subtilis and the Escherichia coli plasmid pUC19 were exposed to selected conditions of space (space vacuum and/or defined wavebands and intensities of solar ultraviolet radiation). After the approximately 11 month mission, their responses were studied in terms of survival, mutagenesis in the his (B. subtilis) or lac locus (pUC19), induction of DNA strand breaks, efficiency of DNA repair systems, and the role of external protective agents. The data were compared with those of a simultaneously running ground control experiment:[144][145]

EURECA facility deployment in 1992


The question of whether certain Gemini IX and XII missions, when samples of bacteriophage T1 and spores of Penicillium roqueforti were exposed to outer space for 16.8 h and 6.5 h, respectively.[43][52] Other basic life sciences research in low Earth orbit started in 1966 with the Soviet biosatellite program Bion and the U.S. Biosatellite program. Thus, the plausibility of panspermia can be evaluated by examining life forms on Earth for their capacity to survive in space.[142] The following experiments carried on low Earth orbit specifically tested some aspects of panspermia or lithopanspermia:

Research in outer space

The discovery of deep-sea ecosystems, along with advancements in the fields of astrobiology, observational astronomy and discovery of large varieties of extremophiles, opened up a new avenue in astrobiology by massively expanding the number of possible extraterrestrial habitats and possible transport of hardy microbial life through vast distances.[52]

Although computer models suggest that a captured meteoroid would typically take some tens of millions of years before collision with a neighboring solar system planet,[32] there are documented viable Earthly bacterial spores that are 40 million years old that are very resistant to radiation,[32][38] and others able to resume life after being dormant for 25 million years,[141] suggesting that lithopanspermia life-transfers are possible via meteorites exceeding 1m in size.[32]

In order to test some these organism's potential resilience in outer space, plant seeds and spores of bacteria, fungi and ferns have been exposed to the harsh space environment.[136][137][140] Spores are produced as part of the normal life cycle of many plants, algae, fungi and some protozoans, and some bacteria produce endospores or cysts during times of stress. These structures may be highly resilient to ultraviolet and gamma radiation, desiccation, lysozyme, temperature, starvation and chemical disinfectants, while metabolically inactive. Spores germinate when favourable conditions are restored after exposure to conditions fatal to the parent organism.

[139] Also, bacteria have been discovered living within warm rock deep in the Earth's crust.[138] It is now known that

revolutionized the study of biology by revealing that terrestrial life need not be Sun-dependent; it only requires water and an energy gradient in order to exist. chemosynthesis, that bubble up from the Earth's interior. This hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen of reactive chemicals, such as oxidation that derives its energy from bacterium It was soon determined that the basis for this food chain is a form of [130].black smokers, scientists discovered colonies of assorted creatures clustered around undersea volcanic features known as Alvin in the deep-sea exploration submersible Galapagos Rift However, in 1977, during an exploratory dive to the [130] Until the 1970s,

Hydrothermal vents are able to support extremophile bacteria on Earth and may also support life in other parts of the cosmos.


[129] A separate fragment of the


  • In 2013, Dale Warren Griffin, a microbiologist working at the United States Geological Survey noted that viruses are the most numerous entities on Earth. Griffin speculates that viruses evolved in comets and on other planets and moons may be pathogenic to humans, so he proposed to also look for viruses on moons and planets of the Solar System.[128]
Wickramasinghe's team remark that they are aware that a large number of unrelated stones have been submitted for analysis, and have no knowledge regarding the nature, source or origin of the stones their critics have examined, so Wickramasinghe clarifies that he is using the stones submitted by the Medical Research Institute in Sri Lanka.[126] In response to the criticism from other scientists, Wickramasinghe performed [126] must have been a required component of the comet (Polonnaruwa meteorite) "ecosystem".cyanobacteria to synthetize amino acids, proteins, DNA, RNA and other life-critical biomolecules, a population of extraterrestrial nitrogen fixation Wickramasinghe's team also argues that since living diatoms require [126] and that the oxygen isotope data confirms its meteoric origin.[126]
  • On January 10, 2013, Chandra Wickramasinghe reported in the fringe science Journal of Cosmology, of shapes resembling fossil diatom frustules in a new carbonaceous meteorite called Polonnaruwa that landed in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka on 29 December 2012.[124] Early on, there was criticism that that Wickramasinghe's article was not an examination of the Polonnaruwa meteorite but of some terrestrial rock passed off as the meteorite.[125]
  • A NASA research group found a small number of Streptococcus mitis bacteria living inside the camera of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft when it was brought back to Earth by Apollo 12. They believed that the bacteria survived since the time of the craft's launch to the Moon.[122] However, these reports are disputed by Leonard D. Jaffe, who was Surveyor program scientist and custodian of the Surveyor 3 parts brought back from the Moon, stated in a letter to the Planetary Society that an unnamed member of his staff reported that a "breach of sterile procedure" took place at just the right time to produce a false positive result.[123] NASA was funding an archival study in 2007 that was trying to locate the film of the camera-body microbial sampling to confirm the report of a breach in sterile technique. NASA currently stands by its original assessment: see Reports of Streptococcus mitis on the moon.

  • In 2005 an improved experiment was conducted by ISRO. On April 10, 2005 air samples were collected from six places at different altitudes from the Earth ranging from 20 km to more than 40 km. The samples were tested at two labs in India. The labs found 12 bacterial and 6 different fungal species in these samples. The fungi were Penicillium decumbens, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Alternaria sp. and Tilletiopsis albescens. Out of the 12 bacterial samples, three were identified as new species and named Janibacter hoyeli.sp.nov (after Fred Hoyle), Bacillus isronensis.sp.nov (named after ISRO) and Bacillus aryabhati (named after the ancient Indian mathematician, Aryabhata). These three new species showed that they were more resistant to UV radiation than similar bacteria.[118][119] Atmospheric sampling by NASA in 2010 before and after hurricanes, collected 314 different types of bacteria; the study suggests that large-scale convection during tropical storms and hurricanes can then carry this material from the surface higher up into the atmosphere.[120][121]
A reaction report at [116][117]
  • A Johnson Space Center, including David McKay, reasserted that there was "strong evidence that life may have existed on ancient Mars", after having reexamined the meteorite and finding magnetite crystals.[107][108]
  • On May 11, 2001, two researchers from the University of Naples claimed to have found live extraterrestrial bacteria inside a meteorite. Geologist Bruno D'Argenio and molecular biologist Giuseppe Geraci claim the bacteria were wedged inside the crystal structure of minerals, but were resurrected when a sample of the rock was placed in a culture medium. They believe that the bacteria were not terrestrial because they survived when the sample was sterilized at very high temperature and washed with alcohol. They also claim that the bacteria's DNA is unlike any on Earth.[109][110] They presented a report on May 11, 2001, concluding that this is the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, documented in its genetic and morphological properties. Some of the bacteria they discovered were found inside meteorites that have been estimated to be over 4.5 billion years old, and were determined to be related to modern day Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilis bacteria on Earth but appears to be a different strain.[111]
  • An Indian and British team of researchers led by Chandra Wickramasinghe reported on 2001 that air samples over [112][113] Two bacterial and one fungal species were later independently isolated from these filters which were identified as Bacillus simplex, Staphylococcus pasteuri and Engyodontium album respectively.[114] The experimental procedure suggested that these were not the result of laboratory contamination, although similar isolation experiments at separate laboratories were unsuccessful.

Case studies

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have speculated that several outbreaks of illnesses on Earth are of extraterrestrial origins, including the 1918 flu pandemic, and certain outbreaks of polio and mad cow disease. For the 1918 flu pandemic they hypothesized that cometary dust brought the virus to Earth simultaneously at multiple locations—a view almost universally dismissed by experts on this pandemic. Hoyle also speculated that HIV came from outer space.[102] After Hoyle's death, The Lancet published a letter to the editor from Wickramasinghe and two of his colleagues,[103] in which they hypothesized that the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) could be extraterrestrial in origin and not originated from chickens. The Lancet subsequently published three responses to this letter, showing that the hypothesis was not evidence-based, and casting doubts on the quality of the experiments referenced by Wickramasinghe in his letter.[104][105][106] A 2008 encyclopedia notes that "Like other claims linking terrestrial disease to extraterrestrial pathogens, this proposal was rejected by the greater research community."[102]

Hypotheses on extraterrestrial sources of illnesses

It is estimated that space travel over cosmic distances would take an incredibly long time to an outside observer, and with vast amounts of energy required. However, there are reasons to hypothesize that faster-than-light interstellar space travel might be feasible. This has been explored by NASA scientists since at least 1995.[101]

The extrasolar planet results from the Kepler mission estimate 100–400 billion exoplanets, with over 3,500 as candidates or confirmed exoplanets.[97] On 4 November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars and red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy.[98][99] 11 billion of these estimated planets may be orbiting sun-like stars.[100] The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists.[98][99]


Extraterrestrial life

In February 2014, NASA announced a greatly upgraded database for tracking polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the universe. According to scientists, more than 20% of the carbon in the universe may be associated with PAHs, possible starting materials for the formation of life. PAHs seem to have been formed shortly after the Big Bang, are widespread throughout the universe, and are associated with new stars and exoplanets.[95]

In March 2013, a simulation experiment indicate that dipeptides (pairs of amino acids) that can be building blocks of proteins, can be created in interstellar dust.[94]

In 2013, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA Project) confirmed that researchers have discovered an important pair of prebiotic molecules in the icy particles in interstellar space (ISM). The chemicals, found in a giant cloud of gas about 25,000 light-years from Earth in ISM, may be a precursor to a key component of DNA and the other may have a role in the formation of an important amino acid. Researchers found a molecule called cyanomethanimine, which produces adenine, one of the four nucleobases that form the “rungs” in the ladder-like structure of DNA. The other molecule, called ethanamine, is thought to play a role in forming alanine, one of the twenty amino acids in the genetic code. Previously, scientists thought such processes took place in the very tenuous gas between the stars. The new discoveries, however, suggest that the chemical formation sequences for these molecules occurred not in gas, but on the surfaces of ice grains in interstellar space.[92] NASA ALMA scientist Anthony Remijan stated that finding these molecules in an interstellar gas cloud means that important building blocks for DNA and amino acids can 'seed' newly formed planets with the chemical precursors for life.[93]

In September 2012, amino acids and nucleotides, the raw materials of proteins and DNA, respectively".[90][91] Further, as a result of these transformations, the PAHs lose their spectroscopic signature which could be one of the reasons "for the lack of PAH detection in interstellar ice grains, particularly the outer regions of cold, dense clouds or the upper molecular layers of protoplanetary disks."[90][91]

[89] On August 2012, and in a world first, astronomers at

On August 2011, a report, based on [84]

In August 2009, NASA scientists identified one of the fundamental chemical building-blocks of life (the amino acid glycine) in a comet for the first time.[80]

[79]C isotopic ratios of organic compounds found in the 13C/12 A 2008 analysis of

Pseudo-panspermia (sometimes called "soft panspermia" or "molecular panspermia") argues that the pre-biotic organic building blocks of life originated in space and were incorporated in the solar nebula from which the planets condensed and were further —and continuously— distributed to planetary surfaces where life then emerged (Chandra Wickramasinghe, who proposed a polymeric composition based on the molecule formaldehyde (CH2O).[74] Interstellar molecules are formed by chemical reactions within very sparse interstellar or circumstellar clouds of dust and gas. Usually this occurs when a molecule becomes ionized, often as the result of an interaction with cosmic rays. This positively charged molecule then draws in a nearby reactant by electrostatic attraction of the neutral molecule's electrons. Molecules can also be generated by reactions between neutral atoms and molecules, although this process is generally slower.[75] The dust plays a critical role of shielding the molecules from the ionizing effect of ultraviolet radiation emitted by stars.[76]


Further investigations are needed. [71][70][69] in the genetic code which, they believe, is evidence for such a signature.semiotic patterns In 2013 a team of physicists claimed that they had found mathematical and [68][67][66][65] A number of publications since 1979 have proposed the idea that directed panspermia could be demonstrated to be the origin of all life on Earth if a distinctive 'signature' message were found, deliberately implanted into either the

[64] With such materials, and energy from long-lived stars, microscopic life planted by directed panspermia could find an immense future in the galaxy.[63]–N) critically limit nutrition to many terrestrial lifeforms.3 (NOnitrate) and 4 However, the scientists noted that phosphate (PO[63] Directed panspermia to secure and expand life in space is becoming possible due to developments in

Theoretically, unintended panspermia may occur by spacecraft travelling to other celestial bodies. This may concern space researchers who try to prevent contamination. However, directed panspermia may reach a few dozen target systems, leaving billions in the galaxy untouched. In any case, matter is exchanged by meteor impacts in the solar system even without human intervention.

The probability of hitting the target zone can be calculated from P(target) = \frac{A(target)}{\pi (dy)^2} = \frac{a r(target)^2 v^2}{(tp)^2 d^4} where A(target) is the cross-section of the target area, dy is the positional uncertainty at arrival; a - constant (depending on units), r(target) is the radius of the target area; v the velocity of the probe; (tp) the targeting precision (arcsec/yr); and d the distance to the target, guided by high-resolution astrometry of 1×10−5 arcsec/yr (all units in SIU). These calculations show that relatively near target stars(Alpha PsA, Beta Pictoris) can be seeded by milligrams of launched microbes; while seeding the Rho Ophiochus star-forming cloud requires hundreds of kilograms of dispersed capsules.[37]

[62] (30,000 m/s) would reach targets at 10 to 100 light-years in 0.1 million to 1 million years. Fleets of microbial capsules can be aimed at clusters of new stars in star-forming clouds, where they may land on planets or captured by asteroids and comets and later delivered to planets. Payloads may contain c For example, microbial payloads launched by solar sails at speeds up to 0.0001

Conversely, active directed panspermia has been proposed to secure and expand life in space.[37] This may be motivated by biotic ethics that values, and seeks to propagate, the basic patterns of our organic gene/protein life-form.[61] The panbiotic program would seed new solar systems nearby, and clusters of new stars in interstellar clouds. These young targets, where local life would not have formed yet, avoid any interference with local life.

Directed panspermia concerns the deliberate transport of microorganisms in space, sent to Earth to start life here, or sent from Earth to seed new [34] but considering an early "RNA world" Crick noted later that life may have originated on Earth.[59] It has been suggested that 'directed' panspermia was proposed in order to counteract various objections, including the argument that microbes would be inactivated by the space environment and cosmic radiation before they could make a chance encounter with Earth.[60]

Directed panspermia

Thomas Gold, a professor of astronomy, suggested in 1960 the hypothesis of "Cosmic Garbage", that life on Earth might have originated from a pile of waste products accidentally dumped on Earth long ago by extraterrestrial beings.[58]

Accidental panspermia

  • Planetary ejection — For lithopanspermia to occur, microorganisms must survive ejection from a planetary surface which involves extreme forces of acceleration and shock with associated temperature excursions. Hypothetical values of shock pressures experienced by ejected rocks are obtained with Martian meteorites, which suggest the shock pressures of approximately 5 to 55 GPa, acceleration of 3×106 m/s2 and [52]
  • Survival in transit — The survival of microorganisms has been studied extensively using both simulated facilities and in low Earth orbit. A large number of microorganisms have been selected for exposure experiments. It is possible to separate these microorganisms into two groups, the human-borne, and the [52]
  • Atmospheric entry — An important aspect of the lithopanspermia hypothesis to test is that microbes situated on or within rocks could survive hypervelocity entry from space through Earth's atmosphere (Cockell, 2008). As with planetary ejection, this is experimentally tractable, with sounding rockets and orbital vehicles being used for microbiological experiments.[52][53] Impact survival.)

Lithopanspermia, the transfer of organisms in rocks from one planet to another either through interplanetary or interstellar space, remains speculative. Although there is no evidence that lithopanspermia has occurred in our own Solar System, the various stages have become amenable to experimental testing.[52]


Based on experimental data on radiation effects and DNA stability, it has been concluded that for such long travel times, boulder sized rocks which are greater than or equal to 1 meter in diameter are required to effectively shield resistant microorganisms, such as bacterial spores against galactic asteroids or comets, the so-called lithopanspermia hypothesis.[43][46]

Then, data gathered by the orbital experiments ERA, BIOPAN, EXOSTACK and EXPOSE, determined that isolated spores, including those of B. subtilis, were killed by several orders of magnitude if exposed to the full space environment for a mere few seconds, but if shielded against solar UV, the spores were capable of surviving in space for up to 6 years while embedded in clay or meteorite powder (artificial meteorites).[43][46] Though minimal protection is required to shelter a spore against UV radiation, exposure to solar UV and cosmic ionizing radiation of unprotected DNA, break it up into its bases.[47][48][49] Also, exposing DNA to the ultrahigh vacuum of space alone is sufficient to cause DNA damage, so the transport of unprotected DNA or RNA during interplanetary flights is extremely unlikely.[49]

In 1903, Svante Arrhenius published in his article The Distribution of Life in Space,[41] the hypothesis now called radiopanspermia, that microscopic forms of life can be propagated in space, driven by the radiation pressure from stars.[42] Arrhenius argued that particles at a critical size below 1.5 μm would be propagated at high speed by radiation pressure of the Sun. However, because its effectiveness decreases with increasing size of the particle, this mechanism holds for very tiny particles only, such as single bacterial spores.[43] The main criticism of radiopanspermia hypothesis came from Shklovskii and Sagan, who pointed out the proofs of the lethal action of space radiations (UV and X-rays) in the cosmos.[44] Regardless of the evidence, Wallis and Wickramasinghe argued in 2004 that the transport of individual bacteria or clumps of bacteria, is overwhelmingly more important than lithopanspermia in terms of numbers of microbes transferred, even accounting for the death rate of unprotected bacteria in transit.[45]


Panspermia can be said to be either interstellar (between [34] or sent from Earth to seed other solar systems have also been proposed.[35][36][37][38] One twist to the hypothesis by engineer Thomas Dehel (2006), proposes that plasmoid magnetic fields ejected from the magnetosphere may move the few spores lifted from the Earth's atmosphere with sufficient speed to cross interstellar space to other systems before the spores can be destroyed.[39][40]

Proposed mechanisms

[22] stated his opinion about what humans may find when venturing into space, such as the possibility of alien life through the theory of panspermia.Stephen HawkingIn a presentation on April 7, 2009, physicist

[21].macroevolution Hoyle and Wickramasinghe further contended that life forms continue to enter the Earth's atmosphere, and may be responsible for epidemic outbreaks, new diseases, and the genetic novelty necessary for [20][19][18]

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