American Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 6, Issue 3, September 2018, Pages: 81-90
Received: Sep. 18, 2018;
Accepted: Oct. 25, 2018;
Published: Nov. 27, 2018
Views 297 Downloads 42
Martin Beech, Campion College, the University of Regina, Regina, Canada; Department Physics, the University of Regina, Regina, Canada
Ian M. Coulson, Department Geology, the University of Regina, Regina, Canada
Mark Comte, Department Physics, the University of Regina, Regina, Canada
An estimate for the minimum amount of terrestrial material deposited into interplanetary space over the past ~550 million years is made. Using the published characteristics of known terrestrial impact craters, it is found that at least 1013 kg of potentially life-bearing matter has been ejected from the Earth’s surface into the inner solar system. This estimate is derived upon a reverse-engineering approach which links the observed crater diameter to impactor size and which employs a set of analytic equations to obtain an estimate of the mass fraction of material ejected, with a speed greater than the Earth’s escape velocity, during the crater-forming process. Of the total amount of terrestrial material ejected into the inner solar system, some 67% can be attributed to the formation of the Chicxulub crater – the largest known crater to have been produced within the Phanerozoic eon. Given a typical asteroid / short-period comet encounter speed of 25 to 28 km/s the ejecta produced in a terrestrial cratering event can, in principle, rapidly find its way onto orbits that intercept the Moon as well those of the planets from Mercury out to Jupiter, thereby populating the solar system with material that harbours viable populations of terrestrial microbes.
Ian M. Coulson,
Lithopanspermia – The Terrestrial Input During the Past 550 Million Years, American Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Vol. 6, No. 3,
2018, pp. 81-90.
J. W. Asley et al. 2008. The scientific rationale for studying meteorites found on other worlds. White paper submitted to the 2013-2022 Planetary Science Decadal Survey Committee.
A. Crawford et al. 2008. On the survivability and detectability of terrestrial meteorites on the Moon. Astrobiology, 8, 241-252.
H. J. Melosh. 1988. The rocky road to panspermia. Nature, 332, 687-688.
H. J. Melosh. 2003. Exchange of meteorites (and life?) between stellar systems. Astrobiology, 3, 207-215.
D. Sloan, R. A. Batista, and A. Loeb. 2017. The resilience of life to astrophysical events. Scientific Reports, 7: 5419.
M. Reys-Ruiz et al. 2012. Dynamics of escaping Earth ejecta and their collision probability with different solar system bodies. Icarus, 220, 777-786.
W. Thomson. 1871. Inaugural address of the President. The Chemical News and Journal of Physical Science, 23, 49-56.
S. Arrhenius 1908. Worlds in the Making: The Evolution of the Universe. New York, Harper & Row.
F. H. C. Crick, and L. E. Orgel. 1973. Directed panspermia. Icarus 19, 341-346.
M. N. Mautner. 1995. Directed panspermia. 2. Technical advances toward seeding other solar systems and the foundation of panbiotic ethics. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 48, 435-440.
B. Gladman et al. 2005. Impact seeding and reseeding in the inner solar system. Astrobiology, 5, 483-496.
M. Hollinger, 2016. Life from elsewhere- early history of the maverick theory of panspermia. Sudhoffs Archiv, 100, 188-205.
W. A. Cassidy. 2003. Meteorites, Ice, and Antarctica. Cambridge University Press, UK.
L. E. Wells, J. C. Armstrong and G. Gonzales. 2003. Reseeding of early Earth by impacts of returning ejecta during the late heavy bombardment. Icarus, 162, 38-46.
D. Stoffler et al. 2007. Experimental evidence for the potential impact ejection of viable microorganisms from Mars and Mars-like planets. Icarus, 186, 585-588.
A. Pavlov et al. 2006. Was Earth ever infected by Martian biota? Clues from radioresistant bacteria. Astrobiology, 6, 911-918.
H. Fumes et al. 2004. Early life recorded in Archean pillow lava. Science, 304, 578-581.
E. A. Bell, P. Boehnke, T. M. Harrison, and W. L. Mao. 2015. Potentially biogenic carbon preserved in a 4.1 billion-year-old zircon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1517557112.
J. W. Schopf et al. 2017. SIMS analysis of the oldest known assemblage of microfossils document their taxon-correlated carbon isotope compositions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1718063115.
M. S. Dodd et al. 2017. Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates. Nature, 543, 60-64.
A. Brack et al. 2002. Do meteoroids of sedimentary origin survive terrestrial atmospheric entry? The ESA artificial meteorite experiment STONE. Planetary and Space Science, 50, 763-772.
W. L. Nicholson et al. 2006. Bacterial spores survive hypervelocity launch by spallation: implications for lithopanspermia. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVII, 1808.pdf.
G. Horneck et al. 2008. Microbial rock inhabitants survive hypervelocity impacts on Mars-like host planets: first phase of lithopanspermia experimentally tested. Astrobiology, 8, 17-44.
R. del la Torre et al. 2010. Survival of lichens and bacteria exposed to outer space conditions : results of the lithopanspermia experiments. Icarus, 208, 735-748.
R. Hazael et al. 2017. Bacterial survival following shock compression in the GigaPascal range. Icarus, 293, 1-7.
R. A. F. Grieve. 1991. Terrestrial impact: the record in the rocks. Meteoritics, 26, 175-194.
C. A. L. Bailer-Jones. 2011. Baysian time series analysis of terrestrial impact cratering. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 416, 1163-1180.
Earth Impact Database: http://www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase/.
H. J. Melosh. 1989. Impact cratering – a geological process. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
J. C. Armstrong, L. E. Wells, and G. Gonzalez.2002. Rummaging through Earth’s attic for remains of ancient life. Icarus, 160, 183 – 196.
W. M. Napier. 2004. A mechanism for interstellar panspermia. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 348, 46-51.
G. S. Collins et al. 2005. Earth impact effects program. Meteoritics and Space Science, 40, 817-840.
Meteorite or meteorwrong? density & specific gravity. http://meteorites.wustl.edu/id/density.htm.
C. R. Chapman and D. Morrison. 1994. Impacts on the Earth by asteroids and comets: assessing the hazard. Nature, 367, 33-40.
S. V. Jeffers, S. P. Manley, M. E. Bailey, and D. J. Asher. 2001. Near-Earth object velocity distributions and consequences for the Chicxulub impactor. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 327, 126-132.
B. Gladman, et al. 2006. Meteoroid transfer to Europa and Titan. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVII, 2165.pdf.
C. Sagan and E. E. Salpeter. 1976. Particles, environments and possible ecologies in the Jovian atmosphere. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 32, 737-755.
R. J. Worth, S. Sigurdsson, and C. H. House. 2013. Seeding life on the moons of the outer planets via lithopanspermia. Astrobiology, 13, 1155-1165.
A. R. Hildebrand. 1993. The Cretaceous / Tertiary boundary impact (or the dinosaurs didn’t have a chance). Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 87, 77-118.
L. W. Alvarez, W. Alvarez, F. Asaro and H. V. Michel. 1980. Extraterritorial cause for the Cretaceous -Tertiary extinction. Science, 208, 1095-1108.
G. Keller et al. 2004. Chicxulub impact predates the K-T boundary mass extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:10.1073/pnas.0400396101.
P. Schulte, et al. 2010. The Chicxulub asteroid impact and mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Science, 327, 1214-1218.
K. Kaiho, and N. Oshima. 2017. Site of asteroid impact changes the history of life on Earth: the low probability of mass extinction. Scientific Reports, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-141990-x.
J. Brittan. 1997. Iridium at the K/T boundary – the impact strikes back. Astronomy and Geophysics, 38, 19-21.
S. Donaldson, and A. R. Hildebrand. 2013. The global fluence of iridium at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. 64th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting, 5240.pdf.
J. R. Moore, et al. 2013. Iridium and osmium fluences across the K-Pg boundary indicate a small impactor. 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 2505.pdf.
P. Bland and N. A. Artemieva. 2006. The rate of small impacts on Earth. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 41, 607-631.
B. M. Simonson, and P. G. Glass. 2004. Spherule layers – records of ancient impacts. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 32, 329-361.
B. C. Johnson and H. J. Melosh. 2012. New estimates for the number of large impacts throughout Earth’s history. Early Solar System Impact Bombardment II, 4027.pdf.
K. A. Farley, A. Montanari, E. K. Shoemaker and C. S. Shoemaker. 1998. Geochemical evidence for a comet shower in the late Eocene. Science, 280, 1250-1253.
M. F. Schaller et al. 2016. Impact ejecta at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Science, 354, 225-229.
M. Beech. 2008. Meteors over the Moon. WGN, the Journal of the IMO, 36:2, 33-36.
D. Schulze-Makuch and I. A. Crawford. 2018. Was there an early habitability window for Earth’s Moon? Astrobiology, 18, 1-4.
W. J. Markiewicz et al. 2014. Glory on Venus cloud tops and the unknown UV absorber, Icarus, 234, 200-203.
S. S. Limaye et al. 2018. Venus’ spectral signatures and the potential for life in the clouds. Astrobiology, 18, 1-18.
D. S. McKay, et al. 2006. Observations and analysis of in situ carbonaceous matter in Nakhla. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVII, 2251.pdf.
G. Galletta, et al. 2009. Surviving on Mars: test with LISA simulator. Arxiv:0919.4830.
R. Orosei et al. 2018. Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars. Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7268.