Panspermia, the theory of fertilizing meteorites
04-06-2014 THE CAB IN THE MEDIA (Blog of the CSIC Science to take in


In 1969 a meteorite loaded with good news fell to Murchison (Australia) for those who think that the universe is full of life. In the fragments of that object no extraterrestrial being was found but organic molecules that are the basis of the development of life. A detailed analysis showed that in the rock there were fifteen amino acids that had formed outside the Earth; some of them, even, have not yet been found on our planet.

The finding proved that organic matter can 'survive' at high temperatures & nbsp; that occur when a meteorite passes through the atmosphere. Carbon molecules resist inside the rock because the great speed at which these objects fall - between 10 and 70 kilometers per second - means that only the superficial layers are 'ignited'.

Scientists do not rule out that, if meteorites can transport organic matter, at some point in history we have 'brought' life itself (bacteria in the form of a spore, for example) and that, even, that life has been the origin of all the living beings of our planet.

This supposes accepting that life is not an exclusive phenomenon of the Earth but that it is found in other places of the universe, which would have come through meteorites 'fertilizers' of planets This theory is known & nbsp; nothing more and nothing less with the name of litopanspermia, from the Greek litho, stone; bread, everything; and spermia, seed.

In his book Extraterrestres (CSIC-Libros de la Catarata), Javier Gómez-Elvira and Daniel Martín explain that, although it has not been proven, this proposal has good arguments to favor.

One of them is that on Earth there are microorganisms capable of surviving fragments that would be projected into space after the impact of a large meteorite. This means that, if on Mars there had been life before on Earth, the impact of a meteorite on its surface would have thrown bits of material with organic compounds into the interstellar medium and these could have reached our planet. Come on, that all of us could have a Martian origin.

Another favorable argument is that some microorganisms can withstand the harsh conditions of life in space, such as high levels of ultraviolet radiation or the enormous contrast of temperatures.

Panspermia yes or panspermia no, we have to be aware that this debate does not answer the question of the origin of life. Even if it were to prove that we 'came' from Mars or from another planet, there would still be a very important question to answer: how on earth did life appear in the universe? It is a question of full relevance in science, in search of whose answer astrobiology is devoting enormous efforts ...

If you want more science to bring about life in the universe consult the book Astrobiology (CSIC- Books of the Cataract), coordinated by Álvaro Giménez Cañete, Javier Gómez-Elvira and Daniel Martín Mayorga.



Fecha: 2014-06-04


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