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Airdate: Aug 07, 2012
Scientist: Lynn Rothschild

Astrobiology - Genesis

Astrobiology - Genesis
The first life forms to arrive on Earth may have "hitchhiked" here on a meteor from Mars.

Transcript:
Astrobiology - Genesis

Music; Ambience: Sonicator

JM: How did life on Earth begin? One theory is that it came here from another planet. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. We're listening to a laboratory instrument called a "sonicator". It uses ultrasound -- high frequency sounds -- to break open the cells of microscopic organisms. NASA scientists are employing this device to study microbes whose ancestors may have originally traveled to Earth from another planet - perhaps Mars. Lynn Rothschild is research scientist with NASA.

LR: "I don't believe that life could be seeded from Mars in terms of little Martians in space crafts sitting there dumping test-tubes on the surface of the Earth. What could have happened is that life could have been transported in a meteorite."

JM: Scientists theorize that over the eons, meteorites have struck Mars with enough force to dislodge fragments of the red planet and launch them into space. Eventually some of them may have landed on Earth - as meteorites.

LR: "There are meteorites that are found that appear to be from other planets, for example Mars, like the one that was found in the Antarctic that caused a big stir. The Alan Hills Meteorite. Now in that case there weren't living organisms, but there was possible evidence of fossil life within the meteorites. Comets can carry organic material and it's possible that a spore from a life form could have been seeded through a comet."

JM: And, according to Lynn Rothschild, it's quite possible that earthly organisms could survive on Mars, and vice versa...

LR: "And Mars may seem very extreme to us, but there are very few things about the surface of Mars even today that you couldn't actually find some organism on Earth that could manage to survive under those conditions."

JM: So, how about farming on Mars? We'll hear more in our next program. To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.