“This appears to be a first on Earth,” says Prof. Milton Wainwright of the University of Sheffield.
When a planet with life is struck by a tiny moving body like an asteroid or comet, some of its microscopic life forms may become trapped inside the expelled debris. They could possibly survive extended voyages into space if they entered a latent condition.
If any of this debris collides with a planet with the correct circumstances for life, the tiny travelers will become active once more. A life-less planet might be seeded in this manner.
Even while it may come as a surprise, this hypothesis isn’t all that far-fetched. Sea plankton was discovered on the exterior of the International Space Station last year, and no one understands how it got there.
Extremophiles are tough microbes that live on our planet. As the name implies, they may flourish in some of the most extreme situations, such as near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor or in extremely acidic surroundings.
Experiments conducted by Japanese experts revealed that certain animals not only survive but flourish under severe gravity circumstances. One species survived being subjected to 400,000 times the gravity experienced on Earth.
Some extremophile organisms can withstand temperatures well below freezing as well as significant doses of radiation.
The most crucial part, however, is that scientists discovered 40 million-year-old live spores. In a nutshell, they can live everywhere and for extraordinarily extended periods of time.
As a result, it’s fair to believe they’d survive an impact that destroyed their home planet, a cosmic journey, and another impact that deposited them on another world. Life on Earth might have started anywhere in the cosmos.
And now for the breaking news.
A few years ago, a team of scientists from the Universities of Buckingham and Sheffield discovered a little but intriguing item. They sent balloons to a height of 16 miles (27 kilometers) to gather dust and particle samples. One of them returned with something unexpected.
This is a microscopic metallic spherical.
A minuscule crater had been left after a tiny metal sphere around the diameter of a human hair collided with the surface of the sampler linked to the balloon. This indicates that it was moving at a fast rate of speed. Professor Wainwright elaborates:
“When the sphere collided with the stratospheric sampler, it created an impact crater, a miniature facsimile of the massive impact crater on Earth caused by the asteroid that is thought to have wiped off the dinosaurs.”
“This impact crater demonstrates that the sphere was approaching from space; a creature from Earth would not be moving fast enough when it came back to Earth to inflict such harm.”
The sphere was constructed of titanium with traces of vanadium, according to X-ray examination. Titanium is one of the most powerful metals known to man, with a high melting point. This prompted Wainwright and his crew to assume that the sphere was a forgery, maybe of alien origin. Hold on, things are about to get stranger.
A “fungus-like knitted mat-like covering” covered the sphere’s surface, and a biological liquid was “oozing from its center.” Scientists have been perplexed by these chemical molecules. Although fascinating, their finding has been called into doubt by scientists who believe it was tainted by particles from Earth.
The samples will be analyzed further by the team. They also expect that their discovery will be confirmed by NASA’s own stratospheric balloon, which is slated to launch in the near future. If NASA discovers comparable particles and proves they are of alien origin, the scientific community will be obliged to consider the notion of panspermia.
Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, head of the Buckingham Center for Astrobiology and a colleague of Wainwright’s, has long been a supporter of this notion.
“Mainstream science and institutions have struggled against ideas that expound these notions, but evidence from meteorites, bacteria samples from space, and space observation is making opposition increasingly difficult.”
“Proving that the Earth is constantly exchanging stuff with the greater universe would have ramifications not just for human identification, but might also provide us insight into extraterrestrial diseases that may be vital for our group identity, evolution, and survival itself,” he told the Daily Express.
The sphere, according to Wainwright, might represent proof of directed panspermia, or the purposeful spread of life throughout the cosmos. Before dismissing him as “far off,” it is worth noting that Francis Crick, the Nobel Prize laureate for co-discovering the structure of the DNA molecule, held similar ideas.
In the near future, humanity may begin launching its own life capsules onto suitable worlds in order to protect and expand life in space. Even if it is still science fantasy, carrying a payload of robust microorganisms tethered to a solar sail might become scientific truth in less than a century.
However, we may have already unwittingly released microbes. There’s no way of knowing for certain that no extremophiles joined the rovers deployed to Mars. Maybe they’ve already started reproducing and building colonies, but that’s just guesswork.
Several serious problems are raised by the directed panspermia idea. Was life on Earth purposefully introduced? Was it delivered by an intelligent civilization more than three and a half billion years ago, when our planet was young and sterile? How would we respond to this question?
Some publications have proposed that the purposeful seeding of life may be shown if the genetic coding of the earliest germs on Earth had a “distinctive signature message,” similar to a calling card left by the engineers, since the early 1980s.
We’ll simply have to wait and watch which direction the little, allegedly extraterrestrial sphere rolls until additional proof comes to light.