Mythbusting Thriller Science: Space bacteria #2 (Crichton’s Andromeda Strain)

In The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton posits the existence of space-dwelling bacteria that can also survive on earth.

In my previous post, part one of this science thriller myth was CONFIRMED.  Given what we now know about the adaptability of bacteria to extreme environments on earth, it’s entirely possible that some species could survive even the harshness of space.  In fact, the hunt for alien life, called astrobiology or exobiology, is now largely a search for microorganisms as microbes are the form of life most likely to exist on other planets.

If bacteria can survive in space, they might also survive a trip from space to earth.  This has huge implications for the origin of life on our planet.  Did life originate in a primordial soup of organic compounds here on Earth, or might we all be descendants of an ancient alien invader?  Panspermia is the theory that early life came to earth from space, as bacteria or dormant bacterial spores riding on meteors.  Something like this actually happened during the Apollo missions, and more evidence is being found all the time.

One can take this idea a rather large, crazy step forward.  What if an advanced alien race intentionally seeded our planet with life?  Or crazier still, what if they designed life forms, like simple viruses, with messages in their DNA sequences?

It can’t hurt to look.

Next post (3 of 3 on space bacteria):  Should we be afraid of space germs?

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