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Chicxulub Impact Might Have Spread Life-Bearing Rocks Through the Solar System

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the big-boom dept.

Space 161

KentuckyFC writes "Some 65 million years ago, an asteroid the size of a small city hit the Yucatan Peninsula in what is now Mexico, devastating Earth and triggering the sequence of events that wiped out the dinosaurs. This impact ejected 70 billion kg of Earth rock into space. To carry life around the Solar System, astrobiologists say these rocks must have stayed cool, less than 100 degrees C, and must also be big, more than 3 metres in diameter to protect organisms from radiation in space. Now they have calculated that 20,000 kilograms of this Earth ejecta must have reached Europa, including at least one or two potentially life-bearing rocks. And they say similar amounts must have reached other water-rich moons such as Callisto and Titan. Their conclusion is that if we find life on the moons around Saturn and Jupiter, it could well date from the time of the dinosaurs (or indeed from other similar impacts)."

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And Vise-Versa (4, Interesting)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about 8 months ago | (#45457313)

A nice example of panspermia.

Re:And Vise-Versa (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 8 months ago | (#45457357)

A nice example of how panspermia might happen. It's a helluva leap between having life-bearing rocks blasted off of earth by a massive meteor collision, and quite another to suggest that the rest of the solar system could have been seeded.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 8 months ago | (#45457501)

Seconded.
That's a really long trip to be taking in the life-unfriendly vacuum.
And at the end you land pretty hard on something no quite like where you grew up.
Liquid water? Check!
Photosynthesis? Hope you brought it with you!
Other food? Not Mexican!
Gases? See above.

Re:And Vise-Versa (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#45457705)

Liquid water? Check!

Maybe not. Europa is believed to have an ice layer between 10 and 30 km thick [wikipedia.org] . It is unlikely that an impact by a 3m rock would penetrate more than 100m or so. The impact would melt some water, but it would quickly refreeze. Europa's surface is pocked with craters millions of years old, so there does not appear to be a regular turnover of the ice that would carry any surviving life to the ocean below.

Re:And Vise-Versa (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#45457967)

Europa has liquid water geysers, and fissures that routinely open up and then re-freeze. Think of the top layer of ice as our earths crust and the (possible) liquid ocean beneath like our liquid rock core. The surface ice shifts constantly and allows briney water to escape to the surface before it re-freezes.

Now, what are the chances that a microbe laden rock would land in one of these crevasses? Pretty low, but keep in mind it's frozen, and could remain frozen on the surface for a very long time waiting for a crack to open beneath it. The odds are still pretty low I admit, but then keep in mind that these large collisions, microbe laden asteroids and Europa's ice flows have been going on for billions of years. Even if the odds per event are almost nil, the cumulative effect is staggering.

When I think of space, I find it hard to believe anything is "impossible" given the vastness and near timelessness of it all. Granted there are some universal physical laws (speed of light) that make some things impossible. But anything that is simply "very very unlikely" has probably already happened.

Re:And Vise-Versa (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 8 months ago | (#45458665)

It's pretty problematic that the impact in question happened in Mexico. The Yucatan isn't exactly a haven of extremophiles—you wouldn't expect to find anything that can maintain a biosphere without a good light source, and they're definitely not well-adapted to the sulphur and magnesium contamination [nasa.gov] that Europa appears to have. Unfortunately the best places to find organisms with a chance of surviving in this kind of environment are at the bottom of the ocean, which is a particularly bad target for producing ejecta. Caves are also a possibility, and since Mexico has no shortage of them, they might be a potential avenue... but who knows if there were any decent ones in the Yucatan at the time.

Re:And Vise-Versa (3, Insightful)

hubie (108345) | about 8 months ago | (#45458023)

This is addressed in the paper. The paper abstract:

Material from the surface of a planet can be ejected into space by a large impact, and could carry primitive life forms with it. We performed n-body simulations of such ejecta to determine where in the Solar System rock from Earth and Mars may end up. We find that, in addition to frequent transfer of material among the terrestrial planets, transfer of material from Earth and Mars to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn is also possible, but rare. We expect that such transfer is most likely during the Late Heavy Bombardment or during the next one or two billion years. At this time, the icy moons were warmer and likely had little or no icy shell to prevent meteorites from reaching their liquid interiors. We also note significant rates of re-impact in the first million years after ejection. This could re-seed life on a planet after partial or complete sterilization by a large impact, which would aid the survival of early life during the Late Heavy Bombardment.

I think you've missed something . . . (4, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | about 8 months ago | (#45457989)

Yon organic matter needn't survive, reproduce and grow - it only needs to introduce the kind of complex organic molecules (amino acids, protiens, etc.) which form the foundation of evolutionary life on this planet. Hell, all the microbes in question (be there one or one million) can die on impact as long as their protiens/nucleic acids etc. remain (even partially) intact. Planetery physics will take care of the rest.

Just don't expect anything familiar to evolve out there.

Re:I think you've missed something . . . (1)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#45458039)

Hm... Madagascar is separated from any other land mass since 150 mio years, and the evolution there, while quite different than in Africa, with almost all species being endemic, is not that different from other continents and islands. There are no different orders of species there, just families and genera are different (and endemic). I don't expect an evolution which lasted only 65 mio years, less than half that of Madagascar, to be radically different.

Re:I think you've missed something . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | about 8 months ago | (#45458183)

Madagascar is nonetheless subjected to roughly the same atmospheric, radiation, and physical environment as the rest of the Earth (magnetic fields, chemicals, gravitic variations due to the presence of a single large satellite in orbit, tides, etc.). Liquid water is present at the surface, temperatures hover between roughly 275-305K. Atmospheric pressure tends to be something like 1 atmosphere (plus or minus a miniscule fraction).

Just sayin'.

Re:I think you've missed something . . . (2)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#45458257)

If it is much colder (as on Europa or Titan), then the van't Hoff rule just lets us expect the evolution being much slower (about 2-3 times per 10 degrees).

Re:I think you've missed something . . . (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45458393)

But changing rates changes evolutionary pressures and therefore morphology and organization. So, there may well be other effects than a stochastic slowing process.

Overall, life is going to be constrained by the physics of the organizing molecules - proteins and sugars can only do so much. Other chemistries are certainly possible, but we've yet to see them work.

Re:I think you've missed something . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458499)

"Life" doesn't have to be a complex organism. It can be bacteria etc.

Re:I think you've missed something . . . (2)

Kongming (448396) | about 8 months ago | (#45458607)

While I will agree that 65 million years is not long in geological time, any novel life forms trying to develop on Earth have to compete for limited resources with existing organisms that are already well-adapted to their environments. It is probably much less likely for some alternative to cellular life as we know it to develop here in parallel with existing life than it is somewhere that we seed a supply of proteins and amino acids and watch to see what happens.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#45457617)

A nice example of how panspermia might happen. It's a helluva leap between having life-bearing rocks blasted off of earth by a massive meteor collision, and quite another to suggest that the rest of the solar system could have been seeded.

It is a much, much, much, bigger leap to suggest that such impacts could lead to the transfer of life between star systems. Panspermia [wikipedia.org] usually refers to the hypothesis that life spread throughout the universe, not just between planets surrounding one sun.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45457739)

Baby steps. Let's give it a few million miles before we start looking at light years and surviving interstellar space.

Re:And Vise-Versa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457769)

No no no! All lies! We all know Jesus had a pet dinosaur!

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45457775)

I believe that article has things upside down. My introduction to the concept of panspermia suggested that life originated in space, then was slowly introduced to planetary surfaces. The idea that life is spread by catastrophic impacts on planetary surfaces seems far less likely than simple space critters evolving after landing on a planet.

Re:And Vise-Versa (2)

hubie (108345) | about 8 months ago | (#45457963)

From the first paragraph in their paper:

Panspermia is the hypothesis that life can be spread between planets and planetary systems. One class of panspermia is lithopanspermia, in which pieces of rock are the mechanism for dispersal (Tobias & Todd, 1974; Melosh, 1988). Rock fragments can be ejected from an inhabited planet's surface via large meteor impact. This ejected material can then travel through space and may land on another planet or moon, as we have seen in identified meteorites from Mars found on Earth (Bogard & Johnson, 1983; Carr et al., 1985). If an ejected rock encases sufficiently resilient organisms, life could be seeded on its destination planet or moon.

Re:And Vise-Versa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457993)

why is that? What is there in the void of space that makes you think life will just "happen" ? At least on planets there is a veritable soup of energy and compounds to eventually hit the right combination to form life; life at least as we know it.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 8 months ago | (#45458049)

Most panspermia proponents I've seen (of the Hoyle variety) seem to be a little shy on any specific details other than a sort of a Battlestar Galacta-esque "life here began out there" kind of line. There's no real substance to their "theory" beyond a "golly, it sure seems unlikely abiogenesis happened here, but somehow, someway, it's more likely somewhere else in the Local Group."

Most of the what I woudl consider legitimate "xenobiologists" don't really look beyond the solar system. There are some that think Mars might have been more hospitable early on, so maybe life began there and then caught a ride after some sort of a meteor impact with Mars that reached Earth. But really, as sparse as the evidence for abiogenesis on Earth is, thus far we have no evidence that in any way approaches conclusiveness that there was life on Mars. And even if we do find it, you still have to show some sort of a genetic relationship between life on both worlds (or indeed, on any other body in the solar system) and life on Earth.

In other words, yes, it's likely that the major meteor strikes on Earth over the last 3.5 billion years have shot life-bearing rocks out into space, but while it seems likely that some may have made it to other bodies in the solar system, it's a helluva a leap from that to "hey look, Earth life flourished on Mars or Europa."

Re:And Vise-Versa (2)

Derek Pomery (2028) | about 8 months ago | (#45458479)

Hm...

Well, from the actual research paper...
"They estimate that a rock of 3 m across shields D. radiodurans for 10 Myr, and 3.3 Myr for B. subtilis"

10 million years is a loooong time. The simulations were calculating in the mere kiloyears according to the paper.

Take oneof the higher ejection velocities... 12.41km/s - let's make it a nice round 10km/s.
Aaaaand, pick a solar system near-ish to us, that is known, like 10.5 light years away. Call it 10^14 km away...

That's a mere third of a million year transit time. So, like a mere 3% of the survival time for Radiodurans w/ a direct trajectory. And ofc, it doesn't necessarily have to survive fully capable to replicate. Even a bunch of starter DNA would be a big help to the new planet.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

Livius (318358) | about 8 months ago | (#45458017)

True.

But leaps happen.

There's no Vise, and no Versa either! (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 8 months ago | (#45458175)

Earth is still throwing rocks into space in modern times, a significant portion of what was once the island of Krakatoa is now in space. The force of the explosion is said to have shot rocks the size of houses into space.

As for seeding the solar system I personally think it's possible but improbable due to the fact that when a space rock hits a planet or moon at that speed, it is instantly vaporised and then rains down on the surface as microscopic glass beads, if it survives that then it's certainly comes under the heading of "Life - but not as we know it".

Life is a natural phenomena, it's chemistry that talks, like volcanos or any other natural phenomena life will emerge when and where the conditions are right for it to do so, for example the conditions on Mars may once have been right for life to emerge, but a thunderstorm will never emerge under the current conditions. Science is now pretty confident that one place where conditions are right for life to emerge are deep sea vents. So sure, the Earth might sneeze it's germs on other planetary bodies, but if those germs are to survive they will need to find the conditions where life can emerge and survive anyway.

The whole binary debate around panspermia is missing the point entirely, any sizeable and 'watery' rock floating in space, be it a planet, moon, comet will probably have some indications of microbial life either past or present. In fact the people who came up with the panspermia concept think that the idea of a unique point in space and time for life to emerge is just silly, panspermia is more analogous to pollen floating through a field of wheat, the point being that the wheat itself is created from countless seeds.

Re:There's no Vise, and no Versa either! (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about 8 months ago | (#45458449)

Earth is still throwing rocks into space in modern times, a significant portion of what was once the island of Krakatoa is now in space.

Cite? Throwing rocks into space is one thing; throwing them so they don't come back is quite another. Absent an injection thruster that kicks in at the right height, the only way to prevent an object coming back down is to accelerate it to escape velocity. That's a tall order.

Re:And Vise-Versa (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#45458685)

Not really. Somebody computed the likelihood of Chicxulub material making its way to the nearest stars and found it not only a certainty, but they were able to estimate the total mass per neighboring star, the time en-route, and so on. In the roughly 3.5 billion years since life arose on Earth the sun has made 17 laps around the Milky Way. The Oort cloud is fairly well polluted with life. Sometimes a star comes a little too close, and we do some border trade on the frontier. Interstellar comets pass through every year gathering up a little bit on their lonely journey. Sometimes they run into things, and leave a little litter from what they've picked up on their road trip. Consider that the Milky Way had an 8 billion year head start on us, and the conclusion is obvious.

Space is big. Really, really mind-bogglingly big. But time is also long.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | about 8 months ago | (#45457425)

Exactly - as life on earth may have been seeded from Mars, Venus, or....somewhere out there.

Re:And Vise-Versa (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 8 months ago | (#45457791)

The Battlestar Galactica fleet?

Re:And Vise-Versa (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45457437)

There are those who believe...that life out there began here, far across the Solar System...with tribes of dinosaurs...who may have been the forefathers of the Europans...or the Callistians...or the Titans...

Some believe that there may yet be descendants of microbes...who even now fight to survive—somewhere beyond the heavens!

Re:And Vise-Versa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457985)

Tribes of dinosaurs? That would be the Voth for you.

Re:And Vise-Versa (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 8 months ago | (#45459081)

There are those who believe...

*The emperor rises to his full height slapping his testicles together in applause*

Bravo Court Jester, another wonderfully funny and politically astute show. Your best show yet - if I may be so bold as to critique your art.

*For the first time during the evening, the audience is silent, you can hear the tension in the air but nobody dares so much as a whisper*

Let it be known to my court, there are some in the empire who take their sci-fi too literally and talk of the solar system as a real place where Europeans - or whatever they're called - exist.
We must all take care not to confuse reality and fantasy in our daily conversations because such talk without the sharp comedic wit of a professional artist is a threat to our very survival. As we know it promotes the heinous crime of irrational thinking when it's is plain for all to see that there is nothing beyond the celestial ice dome but more celestial ice dome. What is it about "ice all the way up" that is so hard for some in my court to comprehend? Well I believe Octopus' razor tells the court that nobody is that reallystupid, the best mathematicians of the court are all convinced the stories are a sophisticated code for subversive activities of the court's enemies. They must be stopped or they will rip the court asunder!

*Set to sinister music* - The emperor slowly withdraws back into his emerald green exoskeleton until only his four eyestalks are visible to the audience, all the while taking mental notes on those who are not enthusiastically applauding his own politically pointed performance.

Re:And Vise-Versa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457471)

A nice example of tacking a huge list of assumptions and estimates together. I would like to see that list...

Re:And Vise-Versa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458999)

Copulating planets via ejecta.

so chicxulub was casued by a monolith (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457317)

So is this conclusive proof that Chicxulub was caused by a monolith impact? Or do we need to find middle american civilization references to spacemen ?

If we find it, the obvious tests (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 8 months ago | (#45457319)

At this point, we have a pretty good understanding of using genetics to estimate roughly when two populations diverged. If we find such life, we can first test if it at all resembles Earth life. If it does (in the sense that it uses most of the same amino acids, and uses similar machinery for DNA and replicating DNA), then we should be able to get a rough estimate of when it separated from Earth life based on how genetically different it is. There will be some difficulty with this sort of technique, since the life on alien worlds may be subject to extreme selection pressures, but that should be something we can roughly account for.

Re:If we find it, the obvious tests (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#45457663)

Well, yes and no. The genetic drift measurements we use depend on a relatively consistent rate of selection. A few generations in a hyper-extreme environment, with lots of territory and niches to gain, and lots of extinction potential might happen at a substantially faster and less predictable rate. Especially since extreme environments have been shown to affect mutation rate.

Re:If we find it, the obvious tests (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457665)

The more obvious test would be if it tastes like chicken.

Re:If we find it, the obvious tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458231)

> If we find such life, we can first test if it at all resembles Earth life
Not if they test us first!

incorrect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457329)

jesus was the one who liberated the dinosaurs - i have seen pictures of him riding one!

Re:incorrect! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457413)

jesus was the one who liberated the dinosaurs - i have seen pictures of him riding one!

What ignorance. The dinosaurs were killed during the global flood. They couldn't fit in Noah's Ark.

Re:incorrect! (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 8 months ago | (#45457473)

They're in magical fairy la.... I mean heaven.

Re:incorrect! (4, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#45457655)

Nuh uh. Animals don't have souls[1]

[1] Ref 1989 - Confraternity of Christian Doctrine class - incidentally the very topic that convinced me finally that "they just made all this up", and convinced me, much to my mother's dismay, that I was done with CCD and religion.

Re:incorrect! (1)

laie_techie (883464) | about 8 months ago | (#45458651)

Nuh uh. Animals don't have souls[1]

[1] Ref 1989 - Confraternity of Christian Doctrine class - incidentally the very topic that convinced me finally that "they just made all this up", and convinced me, much to my mother's dismay, that I was done with CCD and religion.

No single person or organization speaks for all of Christianity. There are thousands of sects divided into hundreds of denominations. And why is Christianity divided? Because they don't agree on how to interpret the Scriptures.

Re:incorrect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458921)

You were allowed to quit CCD? Lucky fuck. Man, did I hate that shit.......

Re: incorrect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457443)

Actually, if evidence that dna is on other planets and if we find life on other planets with DNA, I would think that would actually give believers more reason to believe - GOD's Fingerprint is on it!

Then again, the Fundies will still clutch to their Bibles say that life was placed there by the Devil. I know, I come from a Fundamentalist family.

Re: incorrect! (1)

pollarda (632730) | about 8 months ago | (#45457597)

I have always found it interesting that people take a 2,000 page book and insist that they can read how God accomplished just about everything. This is especially the case when it takes isles and isles of documentation to describe just about anything complex. I have a sneaking suspicion that when we die and get to the pearly gates (or not) and find out if there is an afterlife (or not) that we will find out how little we really know and how childish our interpretations really were.

Re: incorrect! (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45457653)

So what you're saying is that, should religion pan out, it's the ultimate example of the Dunning–Kruger effect?

Re: incorrect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457675)

My family believes that the Bible IS the word of God. I once suggested that maybe when God "wrote" it he was just trying to communicate with a prescience society and that it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Yep, nope!

Re: incorrect! (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45457709)

"isles and isles of documentation"

So you are saying that somewhere, in some distant and unexplored ocean there are islands filed with mouldering ancient texts that explain the origin of life, the universe and everything? Fascinating.

Have you considered pitching this idea to a video game company?

Re: incorrect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457797)

I think you completely missed the point. Try reading the post again a couple of times.

Re: incorrect! (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45457979)

I'm sure the point was not missed.

But I'm also sure the misspelling grabbed ColdWetDog's eyeballs and bitchslapped them so hard that was necessary to triple read the post just to extract any meaning, while at the same time choking back a guffaw.

Re: incorrect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457643)

Ask your fundie parents where in the Bible it says God isn't allowed to create life elsewhere.

Re: incorrect! (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45457849)

Good question. One which few people will even touch. Fact is - there is no such restriction. If a God or gods meddled in life here, they had all the same reasons to plant life hundreds, thousands, millions, or quintillions more times around the universe. One of the crazier stories I read in my youth had God and Satan taking turns designing newer and better planets. On this planet, God is the creator, on the next planet, Lucifer is the creator and God is the antagonist.

Would not survive (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457375)

Dinosaurs were adapted very well of a N2 / O2 atmosphere and would not survive very well in the atmospheric mix of Europa or Titan, even if they did survive the journey there in their adult or larval stages. Aside from that, they need a very specific diet to survive that would not exist on any of the moons or planets they might find themselves on after re-entry. To the best of our knowledge, photosynthesis occurs on only a single body in the Solar System - Earth. We would be able to spot it's telltale signs if it occurred elsewhere.

Re:Would not survive (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 8 months ago | (#45457449)

Is that a bad attempt at a joke or did you just miss the obvious? The Earth was teeming with microbial life, some of which could quite possibly endure not just the trip but some of the conditions found elsewhere.

Re:Would not survive (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45457749)

But I like the idea of a 'larval' T. Rex falling down on some foreign planet or moon and reproducing. Jurassic Park in Space?

No, no Mr. Spielberg, that was a joke. Please don't do that. Don't write that down.

Re:Would not survive (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 8 months ago | (#45458091)

Well, no one is saying that the dinosaurs didn't have space travel.

Re:Would not survive (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about 8 months ago | (#45457451)

I am pretty sure that the article was not referring to the rock being blasted out there with little baby dinosaurs hitching a ride, more like virii and bacterium, and other single celled organisms. but in typical /. fashion I did not RTFA so maybe im wrong and maybe they are talking about t rex and stegosaurus chillin on the moons of Jupiter

Re:Would not survive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457851)

. . . more like virii and bacterium

Every time someone says virii, Daniel Webster kicks a puppy, and when they say bacterium in place of bacteria, he beats his wife.

Re:Would not survive (3, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45457503)

Fun fact: Evidence suggests that life was around on Earth for some 200 million years before photosynthesis; Even after the evolution of photosynthesis, it would have likely taken millions more years for it to change the atmosphere in any way detectable to visitors... nevermind distant observers. Although its presence may be a telltale sign of life, the absence of it shouldn't be taken as evidence of no life.

Re:Would not survive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457815)

Ah, but maybe the ejecta carried ghosts of the dinosaurs to a distant planet, and the creepily stiff dead-eyed inhabitants of that world fought a desperate battle against them!

Then they had to collect seven spirits or something, I don't remember.

Chigs! (2)

Singer Wang (3436625) | about 8 months ago | (#45457381)

Watch out for Chiggie von Richthofen...

Re:Chigs! (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#45457599)

Watch out for Chiggie von Richthofen...

He's unrelated. 65 million year old Mexican rocks are still traveling to his home world.

That said, an amazingly good show for broadcast tv, of course it didn't last.

Re:Chigs! (1)

mmell (832646) | about 8 months ago | (#45458025)

Yup. Doomed to fail. It aired on FOX.

Re:Chigs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458151)

It was depressing as hell though. Every single episode was dark, grimy, sad, depressing. They should have called it "Emo, watch me cry!" This made it very hard to watch.

Re:Chigs! (2)

mmell (832646) | about 8 months ago | (#45459073)

The shows protagonists were a group of young, untried Marines earning their hash-marks during an unexpected (and punishing) war. Several dark and highly controversial issues and themes were explored during the show's brief run. Yes, it's dark, grimy, sad - if you were expecting comedy and lighthearted entertainment, perhaps you should stick with "Friends".

Great movie title: Dinosaurs in Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457399)

And scientifically plausible too!

Re:Great movie title: Dinosaurs in Space (1)

laie_techie (883464) | about 8 months ago | (#45458691)

There was actually a Doctor Who episode about Dinosaurs in Space.

I for one... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 8 months ago | (#45457429)

...welcome our new Sleestak....

Sorry, I can't go on.

seems extremely unlikely (5, Interesting)

epyT-R (613989) | about 8 months ago | (#45457461)

At the point of impact, aren't we're talking millions of degrees of heat energy? Wouldn't this sterilize anything ejected from the planet?. This whole premise sounds more like a bad scifi movie than a real hypothesis.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457549)

It is a real hypothesis. It's just not a theory, due to lack of evidence.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (3)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 8 months ago | (#45457579)

Rock is a pretty good insulator and the impact would have thrown boulders from well away from ground zero. Basically, you've got a single shot Orion Drive [wikipedia.org] with rock instead of a steal shield. You'd actually have a harder time keeping a rock cool on the way up and out than from heat directly from the blast; you'd have to leave the ground significantly above escape velocity to maintain that speed through a few dozen kilometers of atmosphere.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45457899)

Just for the sake of argument - an impact that size, ejecting one or more huge fragments of the earth's crust, would necessarily rip the atmosphere apart pretty thoroughly as well. Smaller fragments of the earth's crust might follow behind a large fragment, travelling in a near vacuum. We could probably model some of those rocks escaping the atmosphere without being heated enough to be sterilized. I put this in the realm of possibility, but I don't put it high in the realm of probability.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 8 months ago | (#45458101)

Rocks burn up falling through atmosphere. Were talking about accelerating a rock upwards from the ground through the same air into space.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 8 months ago | (#45458567)

Objects heat up when they pass through air, period. The rate of heating depends on the air density and the relative speed -- it doesn't care a fig what direction the object is going.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457583)

As stated in the summary, these are the conclusions of a model determining roughly how much rock would be launched into space without surpassing 100 degrees C, and in large enough chunks that some of the core should be well shielded from hazardous radiation.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457595)

At the point of impact, aren't we're talking millions of degrees of heat energy? Wouldn't this sterilize anything ejected from the planet?. This whole premise sounds more like a bad scifi movie than a real hypothesis.

Let's see, summary says: "70,000,000,000kg ejected[...] 20,000kg hit Europa, and one or two rocks probably bore life" Yeah, one or two out of a million rocks fits the definition of "extremely unlikely", but lucky for those microbes, they had a million tries.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457605)

Depends, thermal conductance matters a LOT. If the heat is applied quick enough to a large enough rock then you can end up with only enough energy into the rock to scorch the outside (only the parts in contact with the high heat actually get hot), the inside might warm up but never get hot. You get a similar effect with the laser facelifts, enough heat is applied to vaporize and remove skin, but it's applied quickly enough that you don't get a significant burn, however 150'F water can cook your hand through while leaving much of your skin intact if you happen to leave you hand there long enough.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457611)

There's a big difference between "point of impact" and "edge of the blast zone where there's still enough energy to hit escape velocity". A couple hundred miles, in this case. Not to mention the thickness of the rock being ejected, which is only heated on the surface.

This has been analyzed and discussed for over a decade. Do try to keep up.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 8 months ago | (#45457743)

Not really.

Asteroids hit the ground at about room temperature on the surface, and often below ambient temperature internally. Anything being blasted into orbit would experience similar temperature increases on the way out.

The spot directly impacted would be heated considerably, but the crater would extend many miles beyond that. I find it entirely feasible that such "life-bearing" rocks could exist.

What I find less likely are the odds of these rocks being blasted well out of Earth orbit, and impacting another planet or moon. The delta-e between Earth and Mars, let alone Earth and Europa, is pretty significant, and more importantly, space is really goddamn big. Yet even that stands up, under further consideration. They're claiming only 3 parts in a million hit Europa, which seems reasonable. I would expect far more rocks to have hit Mars or particularly the Moon, which brings up some interesting questions.

Re:seems extremely unlikely (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 8 months ago | (#45458145)

At the point of impact, aren't we're talking millions of degrees of heat energy? Wouldn't this sterilize anything ejected from the planet?.

Taking into account the speed of heat diffusion in the mass of the ejecta, it may happen that the surface may reach some thousands degrees without the core experiencing an increased temperature of more that some degrees. I'd say, within the realm of possible for a rock 3 meters in diameter, ejected at high speed into the near 0K of the space in a matter of seconds.

(don't forget that the impact energy is not transferred in full to a small amount of rock, a big part of it is spent in dislocating those rock and transferring a good deal of kinetic energy. If it helps, think of the Gambaku dome [wikipedia.org] , which was not melted despite being only 160 m from the hypocentre of the atomic explosion)

Cthulhu did it. I was there. (2)

madmarcel (610409) | about 8 months ago | (#45457559)

For some reason I read that as:
"Cthulhu Might Have Spread Life Through the Solar System"

to which the answer is: Probably not.

Re:Cthulhu did it. I was there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45457881)

For some reason I read that as

Yeah, well we really don't care if you can't read.

Earthlings... (4, Funny)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | about 8 months ago | (#45457585)

...polluting space for aeons...

Re:Earthlings... (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#45457699)

Life is absurdly contagious.

Re:Earthlings... (2)

Lightning McQueen (3342905) | about 8 months ago | (#45458005)

This! There's so much junk in space it's like you don't have to worry if your ship breaks down. Find an old 1960's version of your broken part floating around (probably be within 10 feet of you) pop it in and your good to go.

Attempt No Landing There (4, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | about 8 months ago | (#45457685)

The Sentinel is going to be pissed that we'd already contaminated Europa.

Europa (1)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about 8 months ago | (#45457751)

Land or land not; there is no attempt.

Amazingly Earth-centric viewpoint... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 8 months ago | (#45457789)

Imagining that all life must have originated from Earth is an amazingly earth-centric point of view that is similar to the idea in the middle ages that all planets must revolve around the Earth. Obviously, if life can travel from Earth to Europa, it can also travel from Europa to Earth...or from planets outside of our solar system entirely. Moreover, the fossil record shows the presence of life on a very early Earth, leaving far too little time for life to form in primordial Earth oceans under any sort of process currently envisioned. Not only is pan-spermia possible, it is currently the most likely explanation for the source of life on Earth. The real question is 'where did life originate in the universe?'

Re:Amazingly Earth-centric viewpoint... (2)

hubie (108345) | about 8 months ago | (#45457923)

Imagining that all life must have originated from Earth is an amazingly earth-centric point of view

This claim is not made anywhere in the paper, or anywhere else for that matter that I can find.

Re:Amazingly Earth-centric viewpoint... (1)

Livius (318358) | about 8 months ago | (#45458205)

They're saying this could have been an opportunity for life to migrate from Earth to Europa etc., not that it was the only possible way for there be life there.

Re:Amazingly Earth-centric viewpoint... (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 8 months ago | (#45458817)

leaving far too little time for life to form in primordial Earth oceans under any sort of process currently envisioned.

While any of the individual chemical reactions required for abiogenesis would be exceedingly rare, you have to consider that they were taking place in parallel across the surface of the Earth. The Miller-Uray experiment ran for a week in a few small flasks. You can expect much less frequent reactions to happen, at least once, when you do the same thing in the entire volume of the oceans over the course of 100 million years.

Is this pronounced 'chicks lube'? (1)

fredrated (639554) | about 8 months ago | (#45457893)

Not that I would need any, as a card-carrying geek.

Pretty cool (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 8 months ago | (#45457973)

If it turns out to be true, that would be pretty cool.

But I also hope they've made a better go of it than we have. Could hardly be worse, really.

Re:Pretty cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458031)

Could hardly be worse, really.

Go read a history book and see what "could hardly be worse."

Ignorant knee-jerk hyperbole doesn't make you insightful. It makes you a troll.

Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45458013)

Dinosaurs on Europa!

Hooray!!! (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 8 months ago | (#45458217)

Dinosaurs on Europa! We should go there, bring a couple of 'em back, and open a theme park! I'll call it "Jurassic Park XIV: The End of the World"!

Sample rocks on the moon (1)

sinequonon (669533) | about 8 months ago | (#45458407)

Samples of such rocks may still be in lying pristine condition on the Moon. Their DNA won't have survived due to cosmic ray bombardment, but we may still find interesting information about early life. One day we'll send a robotic surface explorer to look... I hope.

Table 5 (3, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 8 months ago | (#45458431)

The 20,000kg number is from Table 5 in the journal. I think the summary is a little deceptive.
Probablilty of life bearing rock ejected from earth reaches Europa is: 2.8E-6 ± 5.0E-7 %
Yeah thats .0000028% plus or minus .0000005%
Including all rocks that were ejected they believe 6 plus or minus .9 rocks would reach Europa.
The 20,000 Kg number comes from those 5 to 7 rocks.
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