Exobiology: Laboratory tests of the impact related aspects of Panspermia

Burchell, Mark J. and Shrine, Nick R.G. and Bunch, Alan William and Zarnecki, John C. (2000) Exobiology: Laboratory tests of the impact related aspects of Panspermia. In: Gilmour, Iain and Koeberl, Christian, eds. Impacts and the Early Earth. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences, 91. Springer-Verlag Berlin, Berlin pp. 1-26. ISBN 3-540-67092-0. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

The idea that life began elsewhere and then naturally migrated to the Earth is known as Panspermia. One such possibility is that life is carried on objects (meteorites, comets and dust) that arrive at the Earth. The life (bacteria) is then presumed to survive the sudden deceleration and impact, and then subsequently develop here on Earth. This step, the survivability of bacteria during the deceleration typical of an object arriving at Earth from space, is studied in this paper. To this end a two-stage light gas gun was used to fire projectiles coated with bacteria into a variety of targets at impact speeds of 3.8 to 4.9 km s(-1). Targets used were rock, glass, metal and aerogel (density 100 kg m(-3)). Various techniques were used to search for bacteria that had transferred to the target material during the impact. These included taking cultures from the target crater and ejecta, and use of fluorescent dyes to mark sites of live bacteria. So far only one sample has shown a signal for bacteria surviving an impact. This was for bacteria cultured from the ejecta spalled from a rock surface during an impact. However, this result needs to be repeated before any firm claims can be made for bacteria surviving a hypervelocity impact event.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: Q Science
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: P. Ogbuji
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2009 18:30
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2014 15:56
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/16182 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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