Discovering life on another planet, only to contaminate that world with our own pesky microbes, is one of NASA’s nightmare scenarios. To find out whether single-celled Earthlings can hitchhike to Mars and survive on the Red Planet’s surface, NASA is going to see how they like it 120,000 feet up.
Last week, a slew of scientific papers told the story of comet lander Philae’s bumpy touchdown, comet 67P’s surprisingly fluffy surface, and — most exciting — the discovery of life’s building blocks there. We haven’t found life. But we may have found part of life’s origin story, buried on this icy rock.
The Panspermia Hypothesis holds that life on our planet traces its origins to space—say, a microbe-laden meteorite landing on primordial Earth. The theory, conceived before humans even went into space, was actually born out of criticism of Charles Darwin and his perceived failure to explain how life began.
The discovery is a boost for the Panspermia Hypothesis — but it's a potential nightmare for scientists concerned about interplanetary contamination.
The building blocks of life could have their beginnings in the tiny icy grains that make up the gas and dust found between the stars, and those icy grains could be the key to understanding how life can arise on planets. With help from students, researchers have discovered an important pair of prebiotic molecules in…
In Prometheus, we saw a mysterious alien seeding the Earth with DNA. This act of fertilizing a planet with life from space is called panspermia. And in this music video from director Tom Walsh and the band Swimming, you can see a breathtaking short story of panspermia that feels far more satisfying than the one in …
Is there (or was there ever) life on Mars? In this great little video — produced by the folks over at thinkrtv — Dr. Ashwin Vasvada, NASA's Deputy Project Scientist for the Mars Curiosity mission, presents three theories surrounding life on the Red Planet, and describes how rovers like Curiosity are helping us paint…
In the opening scene of Ridley Scott's Prometheus, an alien Engineer is seen seeding the Earth with life — an interesting suggestion as to how life emerged on this planet.
We know a lot about the history of life on Earth, but how it began is still one of our greatest scientific mysteries. One hypothesis is that life actually originated on another planet, and many scientists today take the idea quite seriously. Though it sounds like the plot from recent scifi movie Prometheus, it's an…
Exogenesis is the theory that the building blocks for life came from elsewhere in the universe. The trouble is it doesn't explain where those building blocks came from in the first place. But new calculations suggest one intriguing source: Earth.
Many of you have probably heard about asteroid 2005 YU55, the massive rocky body that tomorrow night will
collide with Earth in a ball of flames pass the planet safely, albeit closer than any asteroid in the last 35 years.
We've often found trace evidence of DNA on meteorites, but it wasn't clear whether these DNA pieces originated in space, or were accidental byproducts of contamination by scientists. Now we have our best evidence yet that they actually come from space.
Meteors may have seeded the planet with life-giving ammonia.
Every time we send spacecraft to explore the solar system, we send along lots of tiny microbes. In fact, we may have deposited a trillion microbial spores on Mars. How will we ever discover alien life through all that haze?
Sure, that's maybe the most ridiculous question we've posed. But a new theory suggests life's building blocks did originate in outer space, although they couldn't have survived traveling to Earth. And with an awesome name like necropanspermia, it's worth considering.
A basic property of Earth's organic molecules could be caused by supernova explosions. That means massive stellar explosions indirectly governed the building blocks of life on Earth...and could be doing it elsewhere in the cosmos.
My short story "The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model" is up now at Tor.Com. Aliens come to Earth with a very intriguing business proposition... but unfortunately, it's not quite so lucrative for the human race.
Is it possible to send starter kits of Earth life to other worlds in the hopes of triggering terraforming processes all over the galaxy? Not only is it possible, argues Michael Mautner, but we have an obligation to do it.