Topic: Comets as incubators for life?  (Read 642 times)

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Offline Nemesis

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Comets as incubators for life?
« on: August 19, 2007, 08:23:53 am »
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The 2005 Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1 discovered a mixture of organic and clay particles inside the comet. One theory for the origins of life proposes that clay particles acted as a catalyst, converting simple organic molecules into more complex structures. The 2004 Stardust Mission to Comet Wild 2 found a range of complex hydrocarbon molecules - potential building blocks for life.

The Cardiff team suggests that radioactive elements can keep water in liquid form in comet interiors for millions of years, making them potentially ideal "incubators" for early life. They also point out that the billions of comets in our solar system and across the galaxy contain far more clay than the early Earth did. The researchers calculate the odds of life starting on Earth rather than inside a comet at one trillion trillion (10 to the power of 24) to one against.


In related news a comet is now suspected of "exploding" over North America 12,900 years ago and contributing to the demise of such creatures as the woolly mammoths.

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According to the scientists, the comet before fragmentation must have been about four kilometers across, and either exploded in the atmosphere or had fragments hit the Laurentide ice sheet in northeastern North America.

Wildfires across the continent would have resulted from the fiery impact, killing off vegetation that was the food supply of many of larger mammals like the woolly mammoths, causing them to go extinct.

Since the Clovis people of North America hunted the mammoths as a major source of their food, they too would have been affected by the impact. Their culture eventually died out.


If confirmed it might be used demonstrate that such collisions could in fact land primitive life successfully on a planet.
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