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, planetoids, and also, by spacecraft in the form of unintended contamination by microorganisms.
Panspermia is a hypothesis proposing that microscopic life forms that can survive the effects of space, such as extremophiles, become trapped in debris that is ejected into space after collisions between planets and small Solar System bodies that harbor life. Some organisms may travel dormant for an extended amount of time before colliding randomly with other planets or intermingling with protoplanetary disks. If met with ideal conditions on a new planet's surfaces, the organisms become active and the process of evolution begins. Panspermia is not meant to address how life began, just the method that may cause its distribution in the Universe.
- 1 History
- 2 Proposed mechanisms
- 3 Extraterrestrial life
- 4 Extremophiles
- 5 Science fiction
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The first known mention of the term was in the writings of the 5th century BC Greek philosopher Anaxagoras. Panspermia began to assume a more scientific form through the proposals of Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1834), Hermann E. Richter (1865), Kelvin (1871), Hermann von Helmholtz (1879) and finally reaching the level of a detailed hypothesis through the efforts of the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (1903).
Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) and Chandra Wickramasinghe (born 1939) were influential proponents of panspermia. In 1974 they proposed the hypothesis that some dust in interstellar space was largely organic (containing carbon), which Wickramasinghe later proved to be correct. 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 macroevolution.
In a presentation on April 7, 2009, physicist Stephen Hawking stated his opinion about what humans may find when venturing into space, such as the possibility of alien life through the theory of panspermia.
|“||Life could spread from planet to planet or from stellar system to stellar system, carried on meteors.||”|
—Stephen Hawking, Origins Symposium, 2009
Panspermia can be said to be either interstellar (between star systems) or interplanetary (between planets in the same star system); its transport mechanisms may include comets, radiation pressure and lithopanspermia (microorganisms embedded in rocks). Interplanetary transfer of material is well documented, as evidenced by meteorites of Martian origin found on Earth. Space probes may also be a viable transport mechanism for interplanetary cross-pollination in our Solar System or even beyond. However, space agencies have implemented planetary protection procedures to reduce the risk of planetary contamination, although, as recently discovered, some microorganisms, such as Tersicoccus phoenicis, may be resistant to procedures used in spacecraft assembly clean room facilities. In 2012, mathematician Edward Belbruno and astronomers Amaya Moro-Martín and Renu Malhotra proposed that gravitational low energy transfer of rocks among the young planets of stars in their birth cluster is commonplace, and not rare in the general galactic stellar population. Deliberate directed panspermia from space to seed Earth or sent from Earth to seed other solar systems have also been proposed. 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.
In 1903, Svante Arrhenius published in his article The Distribution of Life in Space, the hypothesis now called radiopanspermia, that microscopic forms of life can be propagated in space, driven by the radiation pressure from stars. 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. 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. 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.
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). 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. 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.
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 cosmic radiation. These results clearly negate the radiopanspermia hypothesis, which requires single spores accelerated by the radiation pressure of the Sun, requiring many years to travel between the planets, and support the likelihood of interplanetary transfer of microorganisms within asteroids or comets, the so-called lithopanspermia hypothesis.
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.
- 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 jerk of 6×109 m/s3 and post-shock temperature increases of about 1 K to 1000 K. To determine the effect of acceleration during ejection on microorganisms, rifle and ultracentrifuge methods were successfully used under simulated outer space conditions.
- 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 extremophiles. Studying the human-borne microorganisms is significant for human welfare and future manned missions; whilst the extremophiles are vital for studying the physiological requirements of survival in space.
- 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. B. subtilis spores inoculated onto granite domes were subjected to hypervelocity atmospheric transit (twice) by launch to a ∼120 km altitude on an Orion two-stage rocket. The spores were shown to have survived on the sides of the rock, but they did not survive on the forward-facing surface that was subjected to a maximum temperature of 145 °C. In separate experiments, as part of the ESA STONE experiment, numerous organisms were embedded in different types or rocks and were mounted in the heat shield of six Foton re-entry capsules. During reentry, the rock samples were subjected to temperatures and pressure loads comparable to those experienced in meteorites. The exogenous arrival of photosynthetic microorganisms could have quite profound consequences for the course of biological evolution on the inoculated planet. As photosynthetic organisms must be close to the surface of a rock to obtain sufficient light energy, atmospheric transit might act as a filter against them by ablating the surface layers of the rock. Although cyanobacteria have been shown to survive the desiccating, freezing conditions of space in orbital experiments, this would be of no benefit as the STONE experiment showed that they cannot survive atmospheric entry. Thus, non-photosynthetic organisms deep within rocks have a chance to survive the exit and entry process. (See also: Impact survival.)
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.
Directed panspermia concerns the deliberate transport of microorganisms in space, sent to Earth to start life here, or sent from Earth to seed new solar systems with life by introduced species of microorganisms on lifeless planets. The Nobel prize winner Francis Crick, along with Leslie Orgel proposed that life may have been purposely spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, but considering an early "RNA world" Crick noted later that life may have originated on Earth. 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.
Conversely, active directed panspermia has been proposed to secure and expand life in space. This may be motivated by biotic ethics that values, and seeks to propagate, the basic patterns of our organic gene/protein life-form. 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.
For example, microbial payloads launched by solar sails at speeds up to 0.0001 c (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 extremophiles for diverse environments and cyanobacteria similar to early microorganisms. Hardy multicellular organisms (rotifer cysts) may be included to induce higher evolution.
The probability of hitting the target zone can be calculated from 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.
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.
Directed panspermia to secure and expand life in space is becoming possible due to developments in solar sails, precise astrometry, extrasolar planets, extremophiles and microbial genetic engineering. After determining the composition of chosen meteorites, astroecologists performed laboratory experiments that suggest that many colonizing microorganisms and some plants could obtain many of their chemical nutrients from asteroid and cometary materials. However, the scientists noted that phosphate (PO4) and nitrate (NO3–N) critically limit nutrition to many terrestrial lifeforms. With such materials, and energy from long-lived stars, microscopic life planted by directed panspermia could find an immense future in the galaxy.
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 genome or the genetic code of the first microorganisms by our hypothetical progenitor. In 2013 a team of physicists claimed that they had found mathematical and semiotic patterns in the genetic code which, they believe, is evidence for such a signature. Further investigations are needed.
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 (abiogenesis). From the early 1970s it was becoming evident that interstellar dust consisted of a large component of organic molecules. The first suggestion came from Chandra Wickramasinghe, who proposed a polymeric composition based on the molecule formaldehyde (CH2O). 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. The dust plays a critical role of shielding the molecules from the ionizing effect of ultraviolet radiation emitted by stars.
A 2008 analysis of 12C/13C isotopic ratios of organic compounds found in the Murchison meteorite indicates a non-terrestrial origin for these molecules rather than terrestrial contamination. Biologically relevant molecules identified so far include uracil, an RNA nucleobase, and xanthine. These results demonstrate that many organic compounds which are components of life on Earth were already present in the early Solar System and may have played a key role in life's origin.
On August 2011, a report, based on NASA studies with meteorites found on Earth, was published suggesting building blocks of DNA (adenine, guanine and related organic molecules) may have been formed extraterrestrially in outer space. In October 2011, scientists reported that cosmic dust contains complex organic matter ("amorphous organic solids with a mixed aromatic-aliphatic structure") that could be created naturally, and rapidly, by stars. One of the scientists suggested that these complex organic compounds may have been related to the development of life on Earth and said that, "If this is the case, life on Earth may have had an easier time getting started as these organics can serve as basic ingredients for life."
On August 2012, and in a world first, astronomers at Copenhagen University reported the detection of a specific sugar molecule, glycolaldehyde, in a distant star system. The molecule was found around the protostellar binary IRAS 16293-2422, which is located 400 light years from Earth. Glycolaldehyde is needed to form ribonucleic acid, or RNA, which is similar in function to DNA. This finding suggests that complex organic molecules may form in stellar systems prior to the formation of planets, eventually arriving on young planets early in their formation.
In September 2012, NASA scientists reported that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), subjected to interstellar medium (ISM) conditions, are transformed, through hydrogenation, oxygenation and hydroxylation, to more complex organics - "a step along the path toward amino acids and nucleotides, the raw materials of proteins and DNA, respectively". 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."
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. 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.
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.
The chemistry of life may have begun shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, during a habitable epoch when the Universe was only 10–17 million years old. According to the panspermia hypothesis, microscopic life—distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and other small Solar System bodies—may exist throughout the universe. Nonetheless, Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life. The sheer number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy, however, may make it probable that life has arisen somewhere else in the galaxy and the universe. It is generally agreed that the conditions required for the evolution of intelligent life as we know it are probably exceedingly rare in the universe, while simultaneously noting that simple single-celled microorganisms may be more likely.
The extrasolar planet results from the Kepler mission estimate 100–400 billion exoplanets, with over 3,500 as candidates or confirmed exoplanets. 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. 11 billion of these estimated planets may be orbiting sun-like stars. The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists.
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.
Hypotheses on extraterrestrial sources of illnesses
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. After Hoyle's death, The Lancet published a letter to the editor from Wickramasinghe and two of his colleagues, 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. A 2008 encyclopedia notes that "Like other claims linking terrestrial disease to extraterrestrial pathogens, this proposal was rejected by the greater research community."
- A meteorite originating from Mars known as ALH84001 was shown in 1996 to contain microscopic structures resembling small terrestrial nanobacteria. When the discovery was announced, many immediately conjectured that these were fossils and were the first evidence of extraterrestrial life — making headlines around the world. Public interest soon started to dwindle as most experts started to agree that these structures were not indicative of life, but could instead be formed abiotically from organic molecules. However, in November 2009, a team of scientists at 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.
- 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. 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.
- An Indian and British team of researchers led by Chandra Wickramasinghe reported on 2001 that air samples over Hyderabad, India, gathered from the stratosphere by the Indian Space Research Organization, contained clumps of living cells. Wickramasinghe calls this "unambiguous evidence for the presence of clumps of living cells in air samples from as high as 41 km, above which no air from lower down would normally be transported". 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. The experimental procedure suggested that these were not the result of laboratory contamination, although similar isolation experiments at separate laboratories were unsuccessful.
- A reaction report at NASA Ames indicated skepticism towards the premise that Earth life cannot travel to and reside at such altitudes. Max Bernstein, a space scientist associated with SETI and Ames, argues the results should be interpreted with caution, noting that "it would strain one's credulity less to believe that terrestrial organisms had somehow been transported upwards than to assume that extraterrestrial organisms are falling inward". Pushkar Ganesh Vaidya from the Indian Astrobiology Research Centre reported in his 2009 paper that "the three microorganisms captured during the balloon experiment do not exhibit any distinct adaptations expected to be seen in microorganisms occupying a cometary niche".
- 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. 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.
- 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. 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. 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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. In response to the criticism from other scientists, Wickramasinghe performed X-ray diffraction and isotope analyses to verify its meteoritic origin. His analysis revealed a 95% silica and 3% quartz content, and interpreted this result as a "carbonaceous meteorite of unknown type". In addition, Wickramasinghe's team remarked that the temperature at which sand must be heated by lightning to melt and form a fulgurite (1770 °C) would have vaporized and burned all carbon-rich organisms and melted and thus destroyed the delicately marked silica frustules of the diatoms, and that the oxygen isotope data confirms its meteoric origin. Wickramasinghe's team also argues that since living diatoms require nitrogen fixation to synthetize amino acids, proteins, DNA, RNA and other life-critical biomolecules, a population of extraterrestrial cyanobacteria must have been a required component of the comet (Polonnaruwa meteorite) "ecosystem".
- 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.
A separate fragment of the Orgueil meteorite (kept in a sealed glass jar since its discovery) was found in 1965 to have a seed capsule embedded in it, whilst the original glassy layer on the outside remained undisturbed. Despite great initial excitement, the seed was found to be that of a European Juncaceae or Rush plant that had been glued into the fragment and camouflaged using coal dust. The outer "fusion layer" was in fact glue. Whilst the perpetrator of this hoax is unknown, it is thought he sought to influence the 19th century debate on spontaneous generation — rather than panspermia — by demonstrating the transformation of inorganic to biological matter.
Until the 1970s, life was believed to depend on its access to sunlight. Even life in the ocean depths, where sunlight cannot reach, was believed to obtain its nourishment either from consuming organic detritus rained down from the surface waters or from eating animals that did. However, in 1977, during an exploratory dive to the Galapagos Rift in the deep-sea exploration submersible Alvin, scientists discovered colonies of assorted creatures clustered around undersea volcanic features known as black smokers. It was soon determined that the basis for this food chain is a form of bacterium that derives its energy from oxidation of reactive chemicals, such as hydrogen or hydrogen sulfide, that bubble up from the Earth's interior. This chemosynthesis 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.
It is now known that extremophiles, microorganisms with extraordinary capability to thrive in the harshest environments on Earth, can specialize to thrive in the deep-sea, ice, boiling water, acid, the water core of nuclear reactors, salt crystals, toxic waste and in a range of other extreme habitats that were previously thought to be inhospitable for life. Living bacteria found in ice core samples retrieved from 3,700 metres (12,100 ft) deep at Lake Vostok in Antarctica, have provided data for extrapolations to the likelihood of microorganisms surviving frozen in extraterrestrial habitats or during interplanetary transport. Also, bacteria have been discovered living within warm rock deep in the Earth's crust.
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. 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.
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, there are documented viable Earthly bacterial spores that are 40 million years old that are very resistant to radiation, and others able to resume life after being dormant for 25 million years, suggesting that lithopanspermia life-transfers are possible via meteorites exceeding 1m in size.
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.
Research in outer space
The question of whether certain microorganisms can survive in the harsh environment of outer space has intrigued biologists since the beginning of spaceflight, and opportunities were provided to expose samples to space. The first tests were made in 1966, during the 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. 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. The following experiments carried on low Earth orbit specifically tested some aspects of panspermia or lithopanspermia:
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. 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:
- 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.
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. 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.
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.
If shielded against solar UV, spores of B. subtilis were capable of surviving in space for up to 6 years, especially if embedded in clay or meteorite powder (artificial meteorites). The data support the likelihood of interplanetary transfer of microorganisms within meteorites, the so-called lithopanspermia hypothesis.
EXPOSE is a multi-user facility mounted outside the International Space Station dedicated to astrobiology experiments. Results from the orbital mission, especially the experiments SEEDS and LiFE, 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. The survival of some lichen species in space has also been characterized in simulated laboratory experiments.
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.
In 2014, the Rosetta spacecraft arrived at COMET 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. A few months after arriving at the comet, Rosetta released a small lander, named Philae onto its surface. Then, for almost two years it was planned to investigate Churyumov-Gerasimenko from close up. Philae's battery has since died, however scientists hope that as the comet travels toward the sun greater solar energy will recharge Philae (via its solar panels) and Philae will resume operation. Rosetta's Project Scientist, Gerhard Schwehm, stated that sterilization is generally not crucial since comets are usually regarded as objects where prebiotic molecules can be found, but not living microorganisms. 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.
The Phobos LIFE or Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment, was developed by the Planetary Society and intended to send selected microorganisms on a three-year interplanetary round-trip in a small capsule aboard the Russian 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.
- 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.
- In the 1990's TV series Space: Above and Beyond, about a war between humanity and an alien species known as the Chigs, it is eventually revealed that life on the Chig's planet and the Chigs themselves evolved from Earth bacteria carried there by an asteroid billions of years ago.
- 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 Battlestar Galactica, season 3, episodes 6 and 7 ("Torn", November 3, 2006; "A Measure of Salvation", November 10, 2006), a Cylon basestar discovers an ancient beacon and takes it on board, whereupon a deadly virus from the beacon infects the Cylons. Doctor Cottle determines the Cylon infection to be a three-thousand-year-old strain of human Lymphocytic Encephalitis. Admiral Adama and President Roslin speculate that the beacon was accidentally infected prior to placement by ancient human colonists on their way from Kobol to Earth. Adama remarks, "An entire race almost wiped out because someone forgot to wipe their nose."
- 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.
- The novels, "The Ice Limit" (2000) and "The Lost Island" (2014), by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, make references to panspermia.
- Wickramasinghe, Chandra (10 June 2010). "Bacterial morphologies supporting cometary panspermia: a reappraisal". International Journal of Astrobiology 10 (1): 25–30. Bibcode:2011IJAsB..10...25W. doi:10.1017/S1473550410000157.
- Napier, William (October 2011). "Exchange of Biomaterial Between Planetary Systems" 16. pp. 6616–6642.
- Rampelotto, P. H. (2010). Panspermia: A promising field of research. In: Astrobiology Science Conference. Abs 5224.
- Forward planetary contamination like Tersicoccus phoenicis, that has shown resistance to methods usually used in spacecraft assembly clean rooms: Madhusoodanan, Jyoti (May 19, 2014). "Microbial stowaways to Mars identified". Nature (journal). doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15249. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Webster, Guy (November 6, 2013). "Rare New Microbe Found in Two Distant Clean Rooms". NASA.gov. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- A variation of the panspermia hypothesis is necropanspermia which is described by astronomer Paul Wesson as follows: "The vast majority of organisms reach a new home in the Milky Way in a technically dead state ... Resurrection may, however, be possible." Grossman, Lisa (2010-11-10). "All Life on Earth Could Have Come From Alien Zombies". Wired. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1981. Evolution from Space (Simon & Schuster Inc., NY, 1981 and J.M. Dent and Son, Lond, 1981), ch3 pp. 35-49.
- Wickramasinghe, J., Wickramasinghe, C. and Napier, W., 2010. Comets and the Origin of Life (World Scientific, Singapore. 1981), ch6 pp. 137-154.
- Margaret O'Leary (2008) Anaxagoras and the Origin of Panspermia Theory, iUniverse publishing Group, # ISBN 978-0-595-49596-2
- Berzelius (1799-1848), J. J. "Analysis of the Alais meteorite and implications about life in other worlds".
- Lynn J. Rothschild and Adrian M. Lister (June 2003). Evolution on Planet Earth - The Impact of the Physical Environment. Academic Press. pp. 109–127. ISBN 978-0-12-598655-7.
- Thomson (Lord Kelvin), W. (1871). "Inaugural Address to the British Association Edinburgh. "We must regard it as probably to the highest degree that there are countless seed-bearing meteoritic stones moving through space."". Nature 4 (92): 261–278 . Bibcode:1871Natur...4..261.. doi:10.1038/004261a0.
- "The word: Panspermia". New Scientist (2541). 7 March 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- "History of Panspermia". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- Arrhenius, S., Worlds in the Making: The Evolution of the Universe. New York, Harper & Row, 1908.
- Napier, W.M. (2007). "Pollination of exoplanets by nebulae". Int.J.Astrobiol 6 (3): 223–228. Bibcode:2007IJAsB...6..223N. doi:10.1017/S1473550407003710.
- Line, M.A. (2007). "Panspermia in the context of the timing of the origin of life and microbial phylogeny". Int. J. Astrobiol. 3 6 (3): 249–254. Bibcode:2007IJAsB...6..249L. doi:10.1017/S1473550407003813.
- Wickramasinghe, D. T.; Allen, D. A. (1980). "The 3.4-µm interstellar absorption feature". Nature 287 (5782): 518. doi:10.1038/287518a0.
- Allen, D. A.; Wickramasinghe, D. T. (1981). "Diffuse interstellar absorption bands between 2.9 and 4.0 µm". Nature 294 (5838): 239. doi:10.1038/294239a0.
- Wickramasinghe, D. T.; Allen, D. A. (1983). "Three components of 3?4 ?m absorption bands". Astrophysics and Space Science 97 (2): 369. Bibcode:1983Ap&SS..97..369W. doi:10.1007/BF00653492.
- Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and John Watson (1986). Viruses from Space and Related Matters. University College Cardiff Press.
- Weaver, Rheyanne (April 7, 2009). "Ruminations on other worlds". statepress.com. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- Khan, Amina (7 March 2014). "Did two planets around nearby star collide? Toxic gas holds hints". LA Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Dent, W. R. F.; Wyatt, M. C.; Roberge, A.; Augereau, J.- C.; Casassus, S.; Corder, S.; Greaves, J. S.; De Gregorio-Monsalvo, I.; Hales, A.; Jackson, A. P.; Hughes, A. M.; Lagrange, A.- M.; Matthews, B.; Wilner, D. (6 March 2014). "Molecular Gas Clumps from the Destruction of Icy Bodies in the β Pictoris Debris Disk". Science. doi:10.1126/science.1248726. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Wickramasinghe, Chandra; Wickramasinghe, Chandra; Napier, William (2009). Comets and the Origin of Life. World Scientific Press. doi:10.1142/6008. ISBN 978-981-256-635-5.
- Wall, Mike. "Comet Impacts May Have Jump-Started Life on Earth". space.com. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Weber, P; Greenberg, J. M. (1985). "Can spores survive in interstellar space?". Nature 316 (6027): 403–407. Bibcode:1985Natur.316..403W. doi:10.1038/316403a0.
- Melosh, H. J. (1988). "The rocky road to panspermia". Nature 332 (6166): 687–688. Bibcode:1988Natur.332..687M. doi:10.1038/332687a0. PMID 11536601.
- C. Mileikowsky, F. A. Cucinotta, J. W. Wilson, B. Gladman, G. Horneck, L. Lindegren, J. Melosh, Hans Rickman, M. Valtonen, J. Q. Zheng; Cucinotta; Wilson; Gladman; Horneck; Lindegren; Melosh; Rickman; Valtonen; Zheng (2000). "Risks threatening viable transfer of microbes between bodies in our solar system". Planetary and Space Science 48 (11): 1107–1115. Bibcode:2000P&SS...48.1107M. doi:10.1016/S0032-0633(00)00085-4.
- Studies Focus On Spacecraft Sterilization
- European Space Agency: Dry heat sterilisation process to high temperatures
- Edward Belbruno; Amaya Moro-Martı´n, Renu Malhotra, and Dmitry Savransky (2012). "Chaotic Exchange of Solid Material between Planetary". Astrobiology 12 (8): 754–74. arXiv:1205.1059. Bibcode:2012AsBio..12..754B. doi:10.1089/ast.2012.0825. PMC 3440031. PMID 22897115.
- Slow-moving rocks better odds that life crashed to Earth from space News at Princeton, September 24, 2012.
- Crick, F. H.; Orgel, L. E. (1973). "Directed Panspermia". Icarus 19 (3): 341–348. Bibcode:1979JBIS...32..419M. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(73)90110-3.
- Mautner, Michael N. (2000). Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future. Washington D. C.: Legacy Books (www.amazon.com). ISBN 0-476-00330-X.
- Mautner, M; Matloff, G. (1979). "Directed panspermia: A technical evaluation of seeding nearby solar systems". J. British Interplanetary Soc. 32: 419.
- Mautner, M. N. (1997). "Directed panspermia. 3. Strategies and motivation for seeding star-forming clouds". J. British Interplanetary Soc. 50: 93–102. Bibcode:1997JBIS...50...93M.
- BBC Staff (23 August 2011). "Impacts 'more likely' to have spread life from Earth". BBC. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "Electromagnetic space travel for bugs? - space - 21 July 2006 - New Scientist Space". Space.newscientist.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2009. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- Dehel, T. (2006-07-23). "Uplift and Outflow of Bacterial Spores via Electric Field". 36th COSPAR Scientific Assembly. Held 16–23 July 2006 (Adsabs.harvard.edu) 36: 1. arXiv:hep-ph/0612311. Bibcode:2006cosp...36....1D.
- "Die Verbreitung des Lebens im Weltenraum" (the "Distribution of Life in Space"). Published in Die Umschau. 1903.
- Ancient micronauts: interplanetary transport of microbes by cosmic impacts. Wayne L. Nicholson. Trends in Microbiology, Vol. 17, No. 6. (June 2009), pp. 243-250, doi:10.1016/j.tim.2009.03.004
- Horneck, G.; Klaus, D. M.; Mancinelli, R. L. (2010). "Space Microbiology". Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 74 (1): 121–56. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00016-09. PMC 2832349. PMID 20197502.
- I. S. Shklovskii; Carl Sagan (1966). Intelligent Life in the Universe. Emerson-Adams Press, Incorporated. ISBN 9781892803023.
- Wickramasinghe, M.K.; Wickramasinghe, C. (2004). "Interstellar transfer of planetary microbiota". Mon. Not.R. Astr. Soc. 348: 52–57. Bibcode:2004MNRAS.348...52W. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.07355.x.
- Protection of Bacterial Spores in Space, a Contribution to the Discussion on Panspermia. Gerda Horneck, Petra Rettberg, Günther Reitz, Jörg Wehner, Ute Eschweiler, Karsten Strauch, Corinna Panitz, Verena Starke, Christa Baumstark-Khan. Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere. December 2001, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp. 527-547.
- R.O. Rahn, J.L. Hosszu, Influence of relative humidity on the photochemistry of DNA films, Biochim. Biophys Acta 190 (1969) 126–131.
- M.H. Patrick, D.M. Gray, Independence of photproduct formation on DNA conformation, Photochem. Photobiol. 24 (1976) 507–513.
- Wayne L. Nicholson; Andrew C. Schuerger, Peter Setlow (21 January 2005). "The solar UV environment and bacterial spore UV resistance: considerations for Earth-to-Mars transport by natural processes and human spaceflight". Mutation Research 571 (1–2): 249–264. doi:10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2004.10.012. PMID 15748651. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Clark BC., Planetary interchange of bioactive material: probability factors and implications Origins Life Evol Biosphere 2001; 31: 185-97
- Mileikowsky C. et al Natural Transfer of Microbes in space, part I: from Mars to Earth and Earth to Mars Icarus 2000; 145; 391-427
- Olsson-Francis, Karen; Cockell, Charles S. (2010). "Experimental methods for studying microbial survival in extraterrestrial environments". Journal of Microbiological Methods 80 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1016/j.mimet.2009.10.004. PMID 19854226.
- Cockell, Charles S. (2007). "The Interplanetary Exchange of Photosynthesis". Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 38: 87. doi:10.1007/s11084-007-9112-3.
- Horneck, Gerda; Stöffler, Dieter; Ott, Sieglinde; Hornemann, Ulrich; Cockell, Charles S.; Moeller, Ralf; Meyer, Cornelia; De Vera, Jean-Pierre; Fritz, Jörg; Schade, Sara; Artemieva, Natalia A. (2008). "Microbial Rock Inhabitants Survive Hypervelocity Impacts on Mars-Like Host Planets: First Phase of Lithopanspermia Experimentally Tested". Astrobiology 8 (1): 17–44. doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0134. PMID 18237257.
- Fajardo-Cavazos, Patricia; Link, Lindsey; Melosh, H. Jay; Nicholson, Wayne L. (2005). "Bacillus subtilisSpores on Artificial Meteorites Survive Hypervelocity Atmospheric Entry: Implications for Lithopanspermia". Astrobiology 5 (6): 726–36. doi:10.1089/ast.2005.5.726. PMID 16379527.
- Brack, A.; Baglioni, P.; Borruat, G.; Brandstätter, F.; Demets, R.; Edwards, H.G.M.; Genge, M.; Kurat, G.; Miller, M.F.; Newton, E.M.; Pillinger, C.T.; Roten, C.-A.; Wäsch, E. (2002). "Do meteoroids of sedimentary origin survive terrestrial atmospheric entry? The ESA artificial meteorite experiment STONE". Planetary and Space Science 50 (7–8): 763. Bibcode:2002P&SS...50..763B. doi:10.1016/S0032-0633(02)00018-1.
- Cockell, Charles S.; Brack, André; Wynn-Williams, David D.; Baglioni, Pietro; Brandstätter, Franz; Demets, René; Edwards, Howell G.M.; Gronstal, Aaron L.; Kurat, Gero; Lee, Pascal; Osinski, Gordon R.; Pearce, David A.; Pillinger, Judith M.; Roten, Claude-Alain; Sancisi-Frey, Suzy (2007). "Interplanetary Transfer of Photosynthesis: An Experimental Demonstration of a Selective Dispersal Filter in Planetary Island Biogeography". Astrobiology 7 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1089/ast.2006.0038. PMID 17407400.
- Gold, T. "Cosmic Garbage," Air Force and Space Digest, 65 (May 1960).
- "Anticipating an RNA world. Some past speculations on the origin of life: where are they today?" by L. E. Orgel and F. H. C. Crick in FASEB J. (1993) Volume 7 pages 238-239.
- Clark, Benton C. Clark (February 2001). "Planetary Interchange of Bioactive Material: Probability Factors and Implications". Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere 31 (1–2): 185–197. Bibcode:2001OLEB...31..185C. doi:10.1023/A:1006757011007. PMID 11296521.
- Mautner, Michael N. (2009). "Life-centered ethics, and the human future in space". Bioethics 23 (8): 433–440. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00688.x. PMID 19077128.
- Mautner, Michael Noah Ph.D. (2000). Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing our Cosmological Future. Legacy Books (www.amazon.com). ISBN 0-476-00330-X.
- Mautner, Michael N. (2002). "Planetary bioresources and astroecology. 1. Planetary microcosm bioessays of Martian and meteorite materials: soluble electrolytes, nutrients, and algal and plant responses". Icarus 158 (1): 72–86. Bibcode:2002Icar..158...72M. doi:10.1006/icar.2002.6841. PMID 12449855.
- Mautner, Michael N. (2005). "Life in the cosmological future: Resources, biomass and populations". Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 58: 167–180. Bibcode:2005JBIS...58..167M.
- G. Marx (1979). "Message through time". Acta Astronautica 6 (1-2): 221–225. doi:10.1016/0094-5765(79)90158-9.
- H. Yokoo, T. Oshima (1979). "Is bacteriophage φX174 DNA a message from an extraterrestrial intelligence?". Icarus 38 (1): 148–153. Bibcode:1979Icar...38..148Y. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(79)90094-0.
- Overbye, Dennis (26 June 2007). "Human DNA, the Ultimate Spot for Secret Messages (Are Some There Now?)". Retrieved 2014-10-09.
- Davies, Paul C.W. (2010). The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-547-13324-9.
- V. I. shCherbak, M. A. Makukov (2013). "The "Wow! signal" of the terrestrial genetic code". Icarus 224 (1): 228–242. Bibcode:2013Icar..224..228S. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.02.017.
- Makukov, Maxim (4 October 2014). "Claim to have identified extraterrestrial signal in the universal genetic code thereby confirming directed panspermia.". Maxim Makukov. The New Reddit Journal of Science. Retrieved 2014-10-09.
- M. A. Makukov, V. I. shCherbak (2014). "Space ethics to test directed panspermia". Life Sciences in Space Research 3: 10–17. doi:10.1016/j.lssr.2014.07.003.
- Klyce, Brig (2001). "Panspermia Asks New Questions". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- Klyce, Brig (2001). Kingsley, Stuart A; Bhathal, Ragbir, eds. "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum III". The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum III 4273. p. 11. doi:10.1117/12.435366.
- N.C. Wickramasinghe, Formaldehyde Polymers in Interstellar Space, Nature, 252, 462, 1974.
- Dalgarno, A. (2006). "The galactic cosmic ray ionization rate". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (33): 12269–73. doi:10.1073/pnas.0602117103. PMC 1567869. PMID 16894166.
- Brown, Laurie M.; Pais, Abraham; Pippard, A. B. (1995). "The physics of the interstellar medium". Twentieth Century Physics (2nd ed.). CRC Press. p. 1765. ISBN 0-7503-0310-7.
- Martins, Zita; Botta, Oliver; Fogel, Marilyn L.; Sephton, Mark A.; Glavin, Daniel P.; Watson, Jonathan S.; Dworkin, Jason P.; Schwartz, Alan W.; Ehrenfreund, Pascale (2008). "Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite". Earth and Planetary Science Letters 270: 130. Bibcode:2008E&PSL.270..130M. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2008.03.026.
- AFP Staff (20 August 2009). "We may all be space aliens: study". AFP. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Martins, Zita; Botta, Oliver; Fogel, Marilyn L.; Sephton, Mark A.; Glavin, Daniel P.; Watson, Jonathan S.; Dworkin, Jason P.; Schwartz, Alan W.; Ehrenfreund, Pascale (2008). "Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite". Earth and Planetary Science Letters 270: 130. Bibcode:2008E&PSL.270..130M. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2008.03.026.
- "'Life chemical' detected in comet". NASA (BBC News). 18 August 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
- Callahan, M. P.; Smith, K. E.; Cleaves, H. J.; Ruzicka, J.; Stern, J. C.; Glavin, D. P.; House, C. H.; Dworkin, J. P. (2011). "Carbonaceous meteorites contain a wide range of extraterrestrial nucleobases". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (34): 13995–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.1106493108. PMC 3161613. PMID 21836052.
- Steigerwald, John (8 August 2011). "NASA Researchers: DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space". NASA. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- ScienceDaily Staff (9 August 2011). "DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space, NASA Evidence Suggests". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Chow, Denise (26 October 2011). "Discovery: Cosmic Dust Contains Organic Matter from Stars". Space.com. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- ScienceDaily Staff (26 October 2011). "Astronomers Discover Complex Organic Matter Exists Throughout the Universe". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Kwok, Sun; Zhang, Yong (2011). "Mixed aromatic–aliphatic organic nanoparticles as carriers of unidentified infrared emission features". Nature 479 (7371): 80–3. doi:10.1038/nature10542. PMID 22031328.
- Than, Ker (August 29, 2012). "Sugar Found In Space". National Geographic. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- Staff (August 29, 2012). "Sweet! Astronomers spot sugar molecule near star". AP News. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- Jørgensen, Jes K.; Favre, Cécile; Bisschop, Suzanne E.; Bourke, Tyler L.; Van Dishoeck, Ewine F.; Schmalzl, Markus (2012). "Detection of the Simplest Sugar, Glycolaldehyde, in a Solar-Type Protostar with Alma". The Astrophysical Journal 757: L4. Bibcode:2012ApJ...757L...4J. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/757/1/L4.
- Staff (September 20, 2012). "NASA Cooks Up Icy Organics to Mimic Life's Origins". Space.com. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
- Gudipati, Murthy S.; Yang, Rui (2012). "In-Situ Probing of Radiation-Induced Processing of Organics in Astrophysical Ice Analogs—Novel Laser Desorption Laser Ionization Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectroscopic Studies". The Astrophysical Journal 756: L24. Bibcode:2012ApJ...756L..24G. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/756/1/L24.
- Loomis, Ryan A.; Zaleski, Daniel P.; Steber, Amanda L.; Neill, Justin L.; Muckle, Matthew T.; Harris, Brent J.; Hollis, Jan M.; Jewell, Philip R.; Lattanzi, Valerio; Lovas, Frank J.; Martinez, Oscar; McCarthy, Michael C.; Remijan, Anthony J.; Pate, Brooks H.; Corby, Joanna F. (2013). "The Detection of Interstellar Ethanimine (Ch3Chnh) from Observations Taken During the Gbt Primos Survey". The Astrophysical Journal 765: L9. Bibcode:2013ApJ...765L...9L. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/765/1/L9.
- Finley, Dave,Discoveries Suggest Icy Cosmic Start for Amino Acids and DNA Ingredients, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Feb. 28, 2013
- Kaiser, R. I.; Stockton, A. M.; Kim, Y. S.; Jensen, E. C.; Mathies, R. A. (March 5, 2013). "On the Formation of Dipeptides in Interstellar Model Ices". The Astrophysical Journal 765 (2): 111. Bibcode:2013ApJ...765..111K. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/765/2/111. Lay summary – Phys.org.
- Hoover, Rachel (February 21, 2014). "Need to Track Organic Nano-Particles Across the Universe? NASA's Got an App for That". NASA. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Loeb, Abraham (October 2014). "The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe". International Journal of Astrobiology 13 (04): 337–339. doi:10.1017/S1473550414000196. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- Loeb, Abraham (2 December 2013). "The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe" (PDF). Arxiv. arXiv:1312.0613v3. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- Dreifus, Claudia (2 December 2014). "Much-Discussed Views That Go Way Back - Avi Loeb Ponders the Early Universe, Nature and Life". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Rampelotto, P.H. (2010). "Panspermia: A Promising Field Of Research" (PDF). Astrobiology Science Conference. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Graham, Robert W. (February 1990). "NASA Technical Memorandum 102363 - Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe" (PDF). NASA (Lewis Research Center, Ohio). Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- Altermann, Wladyslaw (2008). "From Fossils to Astrobiology - A Roadmap to Fata Morgana?". In Seckbach, Joseph; Walsh, Maud. From Fossils to Astrobiology: Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures 12. p. xvii. ISBN 1-4020-8836-1.
- Webb, Stephen, 2002. If the universe is teeming with aliens, where is everybody? Fifty solutions to the Fermi paradox and the problem of extraterrestrial life. Copernicus Books (Springer Verlag)
- Steffen, Jason H.; et al. (9 November 2010). "Five Kepler target stars that show multiple transiting exoplanet candidates". Astrophysical Journal 725: 1226–1241. arXiv:1006.2763. Bibcode:2010ApJ...725.1226S. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/725/1/1226.
- Overbye, Dennis (November 4, 2013). "Far-Off Planets Like the Earth Dot the Galaxy". New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Petigura, Eric A.; Howard, Andrew W.; Marcy, Geoffrey W. (October 31, 2013). "Prevalence of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110 (48): 19273. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11019273P. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319909110. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Khan, Amina (November 4, 2013). "Milky Way may host billions of Earth-size planets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Crawford, I.A. (Sep 1995). "Some Thoughts on the Implications of Faster-Than-Light Interstellar Space Travel". Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 36 (3): 205. Bibcode:1995QJRAS..36..205C.
- Joseph Patrick Byrne (2008). Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues (entry on Panspermia). ABC-CLIO. pp. 454–455. ISBN 978-0-313-34102-1.
- Wickramasinghe, C; Wainwright, M; Narlikar, J (May 24, 2003). "SARS—a clue to its origins?". Lancet 361 (9371): 1832. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)13440-X. PMID 12781581.
- Willerslev, E; Hansen, AJ; Rønn, R; Nielsen, OJ (Aug 2, 2003). "Panspermia--true or false?". Lancet 362 (9381): 406; author reply 407–8. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14039-1. PMID 12907025.
- Bhargava, PM (Aug 2, 2003). "Panspermia--true or false?". Lancet 362 (9381): 407; author reply 407–8. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14041-X. PMID 12907028.
- Ponce de Leon, S; Lazcano, A (Aug 2, 2003). "Panspermia--true or false?". Lancet 362 (9381): 406–7; author reply 407–8. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(03)14040-8. PMID 12907026.
- "New Study Adds to Finding of Ancient Life Signs in Mars Meteorite". NASA. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- Thomas-Keprta, K., S. Clemett, D. McKay, E. Gibson and S. Wentworth (2009). "Origin of Magnetite Nanocrystals in Martian Meteorite ALH84001". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73 (73): 6631–6677. Bibcode:2009GeCoA..73.6631T. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2009.05.064.
- "Alien visitors - 11 May 2001 - New Scientist Space". Space.newscientist.com. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- D’Argenio, Bruno; Giuseppe Geraci and Rosanna del Gaudio (March 2001). "Microbes in rocks and meteorites: a new form of life unaffected by time, temperature, pressure". Rendiconti Lincei 12 (1): 51–68. doi:10.1007/BF02904521. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
-  Microbes in rocks and meteorites: a new form of life unaffected by time, temperature, pressure. (PDF) Giuseppe Geraci, Rosanna del Gaudio and Bruno D’Argenio. Rend. Fis. Acc. Linceis. 9, v. 12. pages: 51-68 (2001)
- "Scientists Say They Have Found Extraterrestrial Life in the Stratosphere But Peers Are Skeptical: Scientific American". Sciam.com. 2001-07-31. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- Narlikar JV, Lloyd D, Wickramasinghe NC, et al. (2003). "Balloon experiment to detect micro-organisms in the outer space". Astrophys Space Science 285 (2): 555–62. Bibcode:2003Ap&SS.285..555N. doi:10.1023/A:1025442021619.
- M. Wainwright, N.C. Wickramasinghe, J.V. Narlikar, P. Rajaratnam. "Microorganisms cultured from stratospheric air samples obtained at 41km". Retrieved 11 May 2007. Wainwright M (2003). "A microbiologist looks at panspermia". Astrophys Space Science 285 (2): 563–70. Bibcode:2003Ap&SS.285..563W. doi:10.1023/A:1025494005689.
- By Richard StengerCNN.com Writer (2000-11-24). "Space - Scientists discover possible microbe from space". Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- Pushkar Ganesh Vaidya (July 2009). "Critique on Vindication of Panspermia" (PDF). Apeiron 16 (3). Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Mumbai scientist challenges theory that bacteria came from space
- Janibacter hoylei sp. nov., Bacillus isronensis sp. nov. and Bacillus aryabhattai sp. nov., isolated from cryotubes used for collecting air from upper atmosphere. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 2009. http://ijs.sgmjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/ijs.0.002527-0v1
- Discovery of New Microorganisms in the Stratosphere.
- Timothy Oleson (May 5, 2013). "Lofted by hurricanes, bacteria live the high life". NASA (Earth Magazine). Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- Helen Shen (28 January 2013). "High-flying bacteria spark interest in possible climate effects". Nature News. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- "Apollo 12 Mission". Lunar and Planetary Institute. Retrieved 15 February 2008.
- "Apollo 12 Remembered". Astrobiology Magazine (online 21 Nov 2004). Retrieved 5 February 2011.
- Wickramasinghe, N. C.; Wallis, J.; Wallis, D. H.; Samaranayake, Anil (January 10, 2013). "Fossil Diatoms in a New Carbonaceous Meteorite". Journal of Cosmology (Journal of Cosmology) 21 (37): 1–14. arXiv:1303.2398. Bibcode:2013arXiv1303.2398W. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- Phil Plait (15 January 2013). "No, Diatoms Have Not Been Found in a Meteorite". Slate.com - Astronomy. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Wallis, Jamie; Miyake, Nori; Hoover, Richard B.; Oldroyd, Andrew; Wallis, Daryl H.; Samaranayake, Anil; Wickramarathne, K.; Wallis, M. K.; Gibson, Carl H.; Wickramasinghe, N. C. (5 March 2013). "The Polonnaruwa meteorite: oxygen isotope, crystalline and biological composition". Journal of Cosmology 22 (2): 1845. arXiv:1303.1845. Bibcode:2013arXiv1303.1845W. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Wickramasinghe, N.C.; J. Wallis, N. Miyake, Anthony Oldroyd, D.H. Wallis, Anil Samaranayake, K. Wickramarathne , Richard B. Hoover and M.K. Wallis (4 February 2013). "Authenticity of the life-bearing Polonnaruwa meteorite". Journal of Cosmology. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Griffin, Dale Warren (14 August 2013). "The Quest for Extraterrestrial Life: What About the Viruses?". Astrobiology 13 (8): 774–783. Bibcode:2013AsBio..13..774G. doi:10.1089/ast.2012.0959.
- Edward Anders, Eugene R. DuFresne,Ryoichi Hayatsu, Albert Cavaille, Ann DuFresne, and Frank W. Fitch. "Contaminated Meteorite," Science, New Series, Volume 146, Issue 3648 (Nov.27, 1964), 1157-1161.
- Chamberlin, Sean (1999). "Black Smokers and Giant Worms". Fullerton College. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
- Choi, Charles Q. (17 March 2013). "Microbes Thrive in Deepest Spot on Earth". LiveScience. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- Oskin, Becky (14 March 2013). "Intraterrestrials: Life Thrives in Ocean Floor". LiveScience. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- Glud, Ronnie; Wenzhöfer, Frank; Middelboe, Mathias; Oguri, Kazumasa; Turnewitsch, Robert; Canfield, Donald E.; Kitazato, Hiroshi (17 March 2013). "High rates of microbial carbon turnover in sediments in the deepest oceanic trench on Earth". Nature Geoscience 6 (4): 284. Bibcode:2013NatGe...6..284G. doi:10.1038/ngeo1773. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- Carey, Bjorn (7 February 2005). "Wild Things: The Most Extreme Creatures". Live Science. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
- Cavicchioli, R. (Fall 2002). "Extremophiles and the search for extraterrestrial life". Astrobiology 2 (3): 281–92. Bibcode:2002AsBio...2..281C. doi:10.1089/153110702762027862. PMID 12530238.
- The BIOPAN experiment MARSTOX II of the FOTON M-3 mission July 2008.
- Surviving the Final Frontier. 25 November 2002.
- Christner, Brent C. (2002). "Detection, recovery, isolation, and characterization of bacteria in glacial ice and Lake Vostok accretion ice". Ohio State University. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- Nanjundiah, V. (2000). "The smallest form of life yet?". Journal of Biosciences 25 (1): 9–10. doi:10.1007/BF02985175. PMID 10824192.
- Rabbow, Elke Rabbow; Gerda Horneck, Petra Rettberg, Jobst-Ulrich Schott, Corinna Panitz, Andrea L’Afflitto, Ralf von Heise-Rotenburg, Reiner Willnecker, Pietro Baglioni, Jason Hatton, Jan Dettmann, René Demets and Günther Reitz. (9 July 2009). "EXPOSE, an Astrobiological Exposure Facility on the International Space Station - from Proposal to Flight" (PDF). Orig Life Evol Biosph 39 (6): 581–98. doi:10.1007/s11084-009-9173-6. PMID 19629743. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Bacterium revived from 25 million year sleep Digital Center for Microbial Ecology
- Tepfer, David Tepfer (December 2008). "The origin of life, panspermia and a proposal to seed the Universe". Plant Science 175 (6): 756–760. doi:10.1016/j.plantsci.2008.08.007.
- "Exobiology and Radiation Assembly (ERA)". ESA. NASA. 1992. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
- Zhang, K. Dose; A. Bieger-Dose, R. Dillmann, M. Gill, O. Kerz, A. Klein, H. Meinert, T. Nawroth, S. Risi, C. Stride (1995). "ERA-experiment "space biochemistry"". Advances in Space Research 16 (8): 119–129. doi:10.1016/0273-1177(95)00280-R. PMID 11542696.
- Vaisberg, Horneck G; Eschweiler U, Reitz G, Wehner J, Willimek R, Strauch K. (1995). "Biological responses to space: results of the experiment "Exobiological Unit" of ERA on EURECA I". Adv Space Res. 16 (8): 105–18. Bibcode:1995AdSpR..16..105V. doi:10.1016/0273-1177(95)00279-N. PMID 11542695.
- "BIOPAN Pan for exposure to space environment". Kayser Italia. 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- De La Torre Noetzel, Rosa (2008). "Experiment lithopanspermia: Test of interplanetary transfer and re-entry process of epi- and endolithic microbial communities in the FOTON-M3 Mission". 37th COSPAR Scientific Assembly. Held 13–20 July 2008 37: 660. Bibcode:2008cosp...37..660D.
- "Life in Space for Life ion Earth - Biosatelite Foton M3". June 26, 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
- Jönsson, K. Ingemar Jönsson; Elke Rabbow, Ralph O. Schill, Mats Harms-Ringdahl and Petra Rettberg (9 September 2008). "Tardigrades survive exposure to space in low Earth orbit". Current Biology 18 (17): R729–R731. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.06.048. PMID 18786368.
- de Vera, J.P.P. et al. (2010). "COSPAR 2010 Conferene". Research Gate. Retrieved 17 July 2013
- Paul Clancy (Jun 23, 2005). Looking for Life, Searching the Solar System. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 26 March 2014.[page needed]
- Tepfer, David Tepfer; Andreja Zalar, and Sydney Leach. (May 2012). "Survival of Plant Seeds, Their UV Screens, and nptII DNA for 18 Months Outside the International Space Station". Astrobiology 12 (5): 517–528. Bibcode:2012AsBio..12..517T. doi:10.1089/ast.2011.0744. PMID 22680697.
- Scalzi, Giuliano Scalzi; Laura Selbmann, Laura Zucconi, Elke Rabbow, Gerda Horneck, Patrizia Albertano, Silvano Onofri. (1 June 2012). "LIFE Experiment: Isolation of Cryptoendolithic Organisms from Antarctic Colonized Sandstone Exposed to Space and Simulated Mars Conditions on the International Space Station". Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 42 (2 – 3): 253–262. doi:10.1007/s11084-012-9282-5.
- Onofri, Silvano Onofri; Rosa de la Torre, Jean-Pierre de Vera, Sieglinde Ott, Laura Zucconi, Laura Selbmann, Giuliano Scalzi,1, Kasthuri J. Venkateswaran, Elke Rabbow, Francisco J. Sánchez Iñigo, and Gerda Horneck. (May 2012). "Survival of Rock-Colonizing Organisms After 1.5 Years in Outer Space". Astrobiology 12 (5): 508–516. Bibcode:2012AsBio..12..508O. doi:10.1089/ast.2011.0736. PMID 22680696.
- Baldwin, Emily (26 April 2012). "Lichen survives harsh Mars environment". Skymania News. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- de Vera, J.-P.; Kohler, Ulrich (26 April 2012). "The adaptation potential of extremophiles to Martian surface conditions and its implication for the habitability of Mars". European Geosciences Union. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Amos, Jonathan (23 August 2010). "Beer microbes live 553 days outside ISS". BBC News - Science and Technology. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Nol bugs please, this is a clean planet!". European Space Agency (ESA). 30 July 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "LIFE Experiment". Planetary.org. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- "Living interplanetary flight experiment: an experiment on survivability of microorganisms during interplanetary transfer" (PDF). Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- "Projects: LIFE Experiment: Phobos". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Zak, Anatoly (1 September 2008). "Mission Possible". Air & Space Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
- Nature News. doi:10.1038/news040216-20 (inactive 2014-03-22).
- Warmflash, D.; Weiss, B. (24 October 2005). "Did Life Come from Another World?". Scientific American.
- 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
|Look up panspermia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- 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.