ST. LOUIS (CBS St. Louis) - A new study claims that life may have come to Earth in the form of extraterrestrial microbes that survived a trip through outer space.
A team of researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey, led by Dr. Edward Belbruno, reportedly found that micro-organisms may have made their way to Earth’s surface while embedded in rock fragments propelled from other star systems.
These microscopic bits of life may even have traveled through space for millions of years prior to arriving on our planet, The Daily Mail learned.
“Our work … says that lithopanspermia [a theory which states that rocks from a foreign planet's surface could serve as a means of transport for biological material, according to a website on the panspermia phenomenon] might have been very likely, and it may be the first paper to demonstrate that,” Belbruno was quoted as saying. “If this mechanism is true, it has implications for life in the universe as a whole.”
He added, “This could have happened anywhere.”
The rocks harboring these microbes are thought to have been expelled from their place of origin by explosive events such as meteorite impacts, collisions with other heavenly bodies or volcanic eruptions.
The study was presented earlier this week at this year’s annual European Planetary Science Congress in Madrid, according to the Daily Mail.
The study’s co-author and astronomer Dr. Amaya Moro-Martin, from the Centro de Astrobiologia in Spain, mentioned the implications of the study’s findings in the ongoing quest to explore other worlds.
“The study of the probability of landing on a terrestrial planet is work that we now know is worth doing because large quantities of solid material originating from the first planetary system may be trapped by the second planetary system, waiting to land on a terrestrial planet,” she reportedly noted.
Moro-Martin did add that, while the team’s research does not prove that lithopanspermia definitely happened, it does show that the phenomenon is “an open possibility.”