What is the panspermia theory?

Life is still a great mystery to science; After all, why do we exist and who created us? These are just some of humanity's primal questions, something that will likely remain a mystery forever. Despite this, scientists, experts in the field and even conspiracists have already suggested some options for how life on Earth could have emerged.

According to some researchers, It is possible that life as we know it did not begin exactly on Earth, but in another region of the universe. The theory of panspermia suggests that the origin of human beings may be in another region of space, possibly thousands of light years from Earth. The idea is that 'seeds of life' arrived on Earth billions of years ago via meteorites, comets or even spacecraft.

For a long time, the theory of panspermia was dismissed by the most skeptical scientists, however, it has been gaining more traction in recent years. To this day, we do not know the correct origin of the emergence of human beings and animals, so, Some scholars do not rule out the possibility that 'seeds of life' arrived on Earth through some near or distant cosmic object.

“An answer long considered but often quickly dismissed is getting new attention and a little more respect. This invokes panspermia, the sharing of life via meteorites from one planet to another, or delivery via comets. In this context, the question often raised is whether Earth could have been seeded by early life from Mars (if it existed at all). Mars, it is becoming increasingly accepted, was probably more habitable in its early period than Earth. But panspermia could also inherently go the other way, or possibly even occur between solar systems,” NASA describes.

To try to explain a little more about what the theory of panspermia is, TecMundo gathered information from experts and scientists in the field. Check out!

What is panspermia?

It is important to explain that the 'seeds of life' mentioned in the text are not literally seeds, in reality, they would be the necessary ingredients for the development of life as we know it. The theory explains that these ingredients may exist in some places in space and spread to other regions of the universe through comets, meteorites, cosmic dust, among other means.

One of the hypotheses of panspermia is that microorganisms and organic molecules arrived on Earth via a comet.One of the hypotheses of panspermia is that microorganisms and organic molecules arrived on Earth via a comet.Source: Getty Images

While the hypothesis that life on Earth arose through organic molecules or microorganisms transported from space is intriguing, it challenges the theory that life developed directly on the planet. Therefore, many scientists still oppose this theory, but there are also those who consider the idea and seek new answers about this possibility.

According to experts on the subject, there are three specific forms of panspermia:

Directed panspermia

Directed panspermia suggests that life on Earth arose after these 'seeds of life' were transported from space through spacecraft belonging to an advanced extraterrestrial civilization.

Thus, the organisms necessary for life would have supposedly been sent by aliens to different planets, such as Earth, to allow the development of life. As you might expect, this is the hypothesis most criticized by scientists, as there is no evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial beings.

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Radiopanspermia suggests that life on our planet may have arisen through microorganisms or organic molecules transported to Earth by cosmic radiation.

Theoretically, these microorganisms could resist radiation and survive in space until reaching planets and initiating various biological processes. However, this theory is not widely accepted by the scientific community.

cosmic panspermia

Currently, cosmic panspermia is considered the most accepted and most studied theory by scientists who know the subject. It suggests that life on Earth arrived through comets, meteorites, asteroids or cosmic dust that contained microorganisms or organic molecules.

From the release of this material, Earth was able to use the ingredients necessary to develop life as we know it.

Despite the various theories on the subject, the origin of the Earth and the Universe remains one of the greatest mysteries in science.Despite the various theories on the subject, the origin of the Earth and the Universe remains one of the greatest mysteries in science.Source: Getty Images

The future of panspermia

In a study published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers from the University of Tokyo, Japan, discovered that a bacteria could survive for up to eight years in space. This information corroborates the possibility that microorganisms can resist the space environment, strengthening the theory of panspermia.

Although the eight-year period is not enough for a long space trip, the result represents a scientific advance that encourages astronomers to continue the search for the origin of life.

“The origin of life on Earth is the greatest mystery of human beings, and scientists may have completely different points of view on the subject. Some believe that life is very rare and has occurred only once in the Universe, while others think that life can occur on every suitable planet. If panspermia is possible, life must exist much more frequently than we previously thought,” said a professor at the University of Tokyo and study investigator, Akihiko Yamagishi.

Did you like the content? Always stay up to date with the latest theories on the evolution of life on Earth here at TecMundo and take the opportunity to discover how an essential amino acid for the formation of human life is detected in space.

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