The study, authored by Professor Arjun Berera from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, suggests that life on Earth may have begun when fast-moving streams of space dust carried microscopic organisms to our planet. Berera found that these streams of interplanetary dust are not only capable of transporting particles to Earth, but also from it.
The researchers found that as these streams of dust graze Earth, they collide with organic particles found in the upper atmosphere. These small particles, which are trapped about 93 miles (150 km) or higher in Earth’s atmosphere, are then knocked out with enough force to escape Earth’s gravity altogether. Once the particles are free from the bounds of Earth, the powerful dust flows can pick up and carry the microscopic hitchhikers off through interplanetary space.
“The proposition that space dust collisions could propel organisms over enormous distances between planets raises some exciting prospects of how life and the atmospheres of planets originated,” said Berera in a press release. “The streaming of fast space dust is found throughout planetary systems and could be a common factor in proliferating life.”