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Dinosaur destroying asteroid may have sent life to Mars 65 million years ago

Washington, Dec. 12 : Researchers have said that the asteroid that was responsible for destroying dinosaurs may also have been capable of catapulting life to Mars and the moons of Jupiter.


The researchers said that the Chicxulub impact, 66 million years ago, was strong enough to fire chunks of debris all the way to Europa - Jupiter's moon, the BBC reported.

Thousands of potentially life-bearing rocks also made it to Mars, which may once have been habitable, they add.

Lead author Rachel Worth, of Pennsylvania State University, said that they found that rock capable of carrying life likely transferred from both Earth and Mars to all of the terrestrial planets in the solar system and Jupiter.

She said that any missions to search for life on Titan or the moons of Jupiter would have to consider whether biological material is going to be of independent origin, or is going to be just another branch in Earth's family tree.

In the new study, the researchers first estimated the number of rocks bigger than 3m ejected from Earth by major impacts, 3m size is the minimum that they believe is required to shield microbes from the Sun's radiation over a journey that could last up to 10 million years.

The researchers then mapped the likely fate of these voyagers. Many simply stayed in Earth orbit, or were slowly pulled back. Others rocks were pulled into the Sun, or just sling-shotted out of the Solar System.

Worth said that, however, a small number of rocks made it all the way to alien worlds that might welcome life.

The study has been published in the journal Astrobiology.

--ANI (Posted on 13-12-2013)

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