To Find the Martian, Look in the Mirror?

To Find the Martian, Look in the Mirror?

Life on Earth did not necessarily originate locally, but according to recent reckoning it probably did not manifest too far away -- in cosmic terms. In fact, Mauri Valtonen wonders if the lifeforms of Earth are actually Martians.

Valtonen, of Finland's Turku Observatory, is part of a multi-country team of astronomers and biologists who have investigated whether life could have been exchanged between more than one planet.

On January 12, 2000, their study was presented at the American Astronomical Society's national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The scientists' calculations showed that if life had ever been on Mars, it could have been transported to Earth onboard some of the approximately five trillion rocks put into space by the impacts of asteroids upon the "Red Planet."

Even today, certain earthly microbes, including Bacillus subtilis and Deinococcus radiorans have enough of the right stuff that a few of them could survive immense acceleration, radiation and heat when traveling through space. (At least they could do so if protected deep inside a rock of at least a meter in diameter.)

Also demonstrated in the scientists' report was that lifeforms on Earth could have been similarly sent off to Mars by asteroid blasts. Panspermia may have been more likely than previously thought.

Sources: CNN.com, 1/13/00; The Washington Post, 1/17/00