The Dark Extropian Report: PANSPERMIA SPECIAL EDITION

fuckyeahdarkextropian:

Welcome to a Special Edition of The Dark Extropian Report. It’s been a bumper few weeks, months and years even in the world of astrobiology, and in particular in the area related to the theory of Panspermia – the idea that life came riding in on an asteroid or comet to our planet. This is one of the very core ideas of Dark Extropianism; that we are inextricably bound to the cosmos, on a grand scale that at the very least is inter-planetary. That our fate lies there as much as our origins do. That we are more than just star dust, but part of a living system that spans billions of years, who’s distance is measured by the speed of light. That ecology is something that spans the galaxy. That we are not meant to stay here, that our destiny lies amongst the stars.

The Dark Extropian Report: PANSPERMIA SPECIAL EDITION

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NASA Meets Theologians to Discuss How We Respond to E.T.

The audience was given an update on the current search for extraterrestrial biology including finding chemical signatures in atmospheres of exoplanets that indicate life, direct observation such as Curiosity uncovering layers of carbon strata as it climbs the hills around Mt. Sharp, or detection of radio signals which would indicate intelligent life elsewhere. They were then asked how humanity should handle such discoveries. If we discovered microbial life, what kind of impact would that have on us? If we discovered a technically sophisticated life, what would our reaction be? Further discussions focused on transcending anthropocentric thinking, questioning whether we should assume that all life was built on the same principles as life here on Earth, that our biology wasn’t universal. In the event of coming across life built on chemistry different from ours, would we even recognize it as life?

Theologians were asked to consider the status of alien life within the context of morality. What would be our responsibilities in dealing with extraterrestrials whether microbial or more complex life forms? We humans here on Earth have shown through past behavior little regard for other living things. If we can’t eat them or domesticate them to help us then we often decimate them. It’s only recently that conservation and biodiversity have been adopted as core values within our human existence. So in discovering life elsewhere what would be our behavior? Destroyer or conservationist?

In one session Christian theologians were asked if they would baptize an extraterrestrial A Jesuit in attendance is quoted by the Huffington Post as stating “any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.” So on the question of baptism, if E.T. asked baptism would be granted.

NASA Meets Theologians to Discuss How We Respond to E.T.

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Perhaps a safer way for seed to spread would be for whole rocks to travel other worlds. Previous research has showed that, theoretically, a massive meteorite impact could blast up and scatter tonnes of rock across the solar system.

In their recent paper, Hara and colleagues considered one of the biggest meteorite hits known in Earth’s history: the Chicxulub impact 65 million years ago, usually blamed for killing off the dinosaurs. The 10-kilometre-wide asteroid weighed well over a trillion tonnes, and could have excavated as much mass from the surface of the Earth.

The team calculated how much of that stuff could have ended up on the bodies in the solar system thought most likely to be hospitable to life: Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa, both of which are thought to have subsurface oceans of liquid water.

Under certain conditions, as many as 300 million individual rocks could have ended up on Europa, and 500 on Enceladus, they calculated. Even more could have ended up on the moon and Mars. The team write:

“Although it is uncertain how rocks enter the presumed sea under the surface, for example, of Enceladus and Europa, the probability may be high that microorganisms transferred from Earth would be adapted and grow there.”

A handful of rocks could even have made it to planets around other stars. Once such could be Gliese 581, a red dwarf 20 light years away with a super-Earth orbiting at the outer edge of its habitable zone, where water could be liquid. Hana and colleagues calculated that about 1000 rocks from the Chicxulub impact could have reached that far in about a million years, meaning any life that made it would have had 64 million years to develop – or die off.

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By reconstructing conditions in the disk of gas and dust in which the Solar System formed, scientists have concluded that the Earth and other planets must have inherited much of their water from the cloud of gas from which the Sun was born 4.6 billion years ago, instead of forming later. The authors say that such interstellar water would also be included in the formation of most other stellar systems, and perhaps of other Earth-like planets. The dense interstellar clouds of gas and dust where stars form contain abundant water, in the form of ice. When a star first lights up, it heats up the cloud around it and floods it with radiation, vaporizing the ice and breaking up some of the water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. Until now, researchers were unsure how much of the ‘old’ water would be spared in this process. If most of the original water molecules were broken up, water would have had to reform in the early Solar System. But the conditions that made this possible could be specific to the Solar System, in which case many stellar systems could be left dry, says Ilsedore Cleeves, an astrochemist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who led the new study. But if some of the water could survive the star-forming process, and if the Solar System’s case is typical, it means that water “is available as a universal ingredient during planet formation”, she says.

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Plate tectonics found on Europa   

Such active geology suggests that Europa’s icy surface is connected to its buried ocean — creating a possible pathway for salts, minerals and maybe even microbes to get from the ocean to the surface and back again.

Places have already been spotted on Europa where fresh ice crust is being born, but the latest research is the first to pinpoint where it might be going to die.

But without high-resolution images from more areas, researchers cannot tell whether subduction might also be happening in other locations. If it turns out to be common, it might mean that the moon could be cycling life-friendly compounds between the surface and the deep, and that substantially increases the chance that its ocean is habitable, says Michael Bland, a planetary scientist at the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The discovery adds to excitement set off in December, when scientists reported plumes of water vapour spurting out at Europa’s south pole (L. Roth et al. Science 343, 171–174; 2014). The plumes have not been seen since, and they may or may not be related to Europa’s newly appreciated system of plate tectonics. NASA now needs to figure out what kind of mission might best to explore these discoveries.

Plate tectonics found on Europa   

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It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civillization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility and an intriguing possibility and I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry or molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer.

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