Some 65 million years ago, an asteroid the size of a small city hit the Yucatan Peninsula in what is now Mexico. The impact devastated Earth, generating huge tsunamis, massive wildfires and rapidly heating the atmosphere. It triggered earthquakes and volcanic activity and then cooled the world as smoke and dust blanketed the planet.
This impact changed the future of the Earth, triggering the sequence of events that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, the rise of mammals and ultimately the domination of humans.
Now Christopher House and pals at Penn State Astrobiology Research Center in University Park, say this event may have had an equally profound influence on other parts of the Solar System.
These guys have calculated the number of rocks ejected into space in this collision that would have been capable of carrying life and protecting it in space. They say that significant numbers of these rocks would have made the journey to Mars and Venus but also to Jupiter and Saturn. In particular, they say these rocks would probably have travelled to moons such as Europa, Callisto and Titan, where astrobiologists believe that conditions are ripe for life.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
How Life-Bearing Rocks from the Chicxulub Asteroid Impact must have Spread through the Solar System