Mars has been a playground for NASA’s various robots and missions, and it was back in March that the Curiosity rover found evidence of conditions for habitable life, something that has cropped up in various degrees since then. According to some US researchers, it is possible that rocks containing life could have been blasted, so to speak, to the Red Planet from the Chicxulub impact that took out the dinosaurs and many other strikes.
The statement comes from Penn State University researchers who have calculated the approximate number of rocks from our planet large enough to possibly carry life that have made their way into space over the past few billion years. The idea isn’t a new one, the notion that life can make its way through the solar system as a sort of fallout from asteroid and similar strikes. It is that technology has finally reached a point where looking into such matters has become a more precise art, namely in the form of simulations.
The Chicxulub impact in particular, says the researchers, could have launched quite a few rocks containing life to Mars, of which such material needs to measure in larger than 3 meters in order for (based on an estimate) any potential life to survive the long journey to its next celestial destination. Though not all life that finds its way into space has ended up in fruitful lands, “enough that it matters” potentially made it to planets that could support life.
Said the paper’s lead author Rachel Worth: “We find that rock capable of carrying life has likely transferred from both Earth and Mars to all of the terrestrial planets in the solar system and Jupiter. Any missions to search for life on Titan or the moons of Jupiter will have to consider whether biological material is of independent origin, or another branch in Earth’s family tree.”