A team of scientists is conducting a new study on the feasibility of how microbes could have seeded planets - including our own - with life in the distant past. The study will look deeper into the theory of panspermia, which suggests that life may have traveled from one planet to another by piggybacking on space rocks.
The study will attempt to answer the question of whether life from Mars traveled to Earth. The scientist will calculate factors such as the necessary velocities needed for life-bearing material to be ejected into space and how it could reach Earth.
The conclusion of the ongoing study will be greatly dependent on the findings of NASA's Perseverance rover, which is roaming the Martian surface in search of ancient microbial life. If there is microbial life on Mars, scientists think that it may have made its way to Earth.
Mounting evidence suggests that life may have existed on Mars billions of years ago before life sprang on Earth. Scientists theorize that life may have traveled from Mars to Earth and that we may owe our existence to ancient Martian life.
Scientists also think ancient life on Earth could be traveling to other solar systems through asteroids, including the one that killed off the dinosaurs more than 66 million years ago.
"A lot of material was ejected from our planet, and this material could leave the Solar System. If some of that material harbored some microscopic form of life, like bacteria, it's very possible that such microscopic life could survive 1 million-2 million years if they were shielded by these rocks," Claudio Grimaldi, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the lead author of the new study, said.
The authors of the study want to create a new model that factors in how long microbes would survive on asteroids and meteors traveling through space. They will also include the necessary velocities needed for how these bodies could travel to other plants.
"The idea is that on average, each planet is somehow bombarded by small asteroids, meteorites. There is a small probability that during this bombardment, some fragments could be ejected into space," Grimaldi said.