Panspermia; Can it Explain the Origin of Life on Earth? — are ‘we’ the aliens we are looking for?

Maria Anna van Driel
6 min readAug 22, 2021

By Maria Anna van Driel,

How life originated on Earth is a question that we have pondered over for decades already.

Intriguing Theories and questions like could we be Martians, is a flippant way of asking, are planets isolated islands or can they transfer life? In other words, could life have been transferred from, for instance, Mars to Earth in meteorites? If so, how did these alien bacteria altered life on Earth?

By asking questions as such, a variety in scientific theories has pilled-up over time as well as it has reached the realm of many science fiction movies. Nowadays we know that life can survive in space, travel through the Mesosphere (housing meteors and rock fragments) and eventually can enter the Troposphere where it is free to both merge with any biological life form and hitchhiking on any non-biological object that is present on Earth.

But, even though we are trying to solve this mind dazzling puzzle with, among others, modern devices, this question if life can be transferred from one planet to another in such a simple, natural manner, is just an extension of old questions whereby one plausible answer hovers on the border of being science-fiction; the ‘Panspermia Theory’.

Panspermia…does this theory speak of blood thirsty aliens from deep space looking like giant cockroaches trying to merge with the human species? Are they sending killer viruses from a neighbor galaxy in order to establish an invasion of slimy worms slithering the Earth’s surface searching for the most perfect host, which might be YOU?

Okay, relax, it does not, but you catch my drift … right? Life on Earth being supported by life-forms (e.g. bacteria) having an extraterrestrial origin, may not be such a farfetched idea after all. But, before you get all excited and dust off your time machine, break out your favorite third-sided dimensional reality and start collecting moon rocks to find out if it is containing life, let me explain this theory.

Hopping through history

This theory, called Panspermia is a reasonable idea simply because modern science has shown us that rocks can indeed be transferred from one planet to another in a natural manner while containing life and thus is, in this line of thought, allowing other planets to be inoculated.

But this idea of ‘life from outer-space’ was not something what was thought off by modern science. This theory was already mentioned in the writings of the 5th-century BC Greek philosopher Anaxagoras.

This scientific hypothesis of Panspermia, which roughly translates from Greek, as ‘all seeds’ or ‘seeds everywhere’, in the form of bacterial spores, began to gain a more scientific form through the proposals of Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1834), Hermann E. Richter (1865), Kelvin (1871), Hermann von Helmholtz (1879) and finally reaching the level of a detailed scientific hypothesis through the efforts of the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (1903).

Then, in April 2018, a Russian team published a paper which disclosed that they found land and marine bacteria DNA on the exterior of the ISS.

The seeds of life are everywhere throughout the Universe

Contemporary science assumes that there is a high possibility that extraterrestrial life is not only plausible, but probable or even inevitable. Many scientists believe that the chemistry, leading to life, may have begun shortly after the Big Bang, during a habitable epoch when the Universe was only 10 to 17 million years old.

And so, probes and instruments have being launched from the planetary surface, in other words being ejected into outer-space, were they started examining other planets and moons in the Solar System hoping to find the evidence of life forms which could have once supported life on Earth. Or, perhaps still is.

Related projects in the search for extraterrestrial life-forms are such as SETI’s attempts to detect radio transmissions from possible extra-terrestrial civilizations while certain projects conducted by e.g. ICECUBE and CERN, are focused on detecting the possibility if communication with the Neutrino is possible between galaxies.

Anyway, grabbing back to Panspermia, it is an accepted theory by modern science and suggests that life on Earth did not originate on/from our planet but, was transported here from somewhere else in the universe. And while this idea seems to come straight from of a science fiction novel, this process in real bacteria from outer space creeping in and merging with the DNA of earlier Earthly life-forms, is seriously discussed and shows a broad line of thoughts in an idea holding a partial answer to the origin of life on Earth.

Survival of the fittest

This theory, what proposes that microscopic life-forms are able to survive the erratic effects of space, is, in a way, telling us that ‘Alien’ life forms can become trapped in cosmic debris what was catapulted into space after a collision between planets and small Solar System bodies like moons, harboring life.

In order to support this theory, checked laboratory processes have shown that some bacteria do have the ability to grow at temperatures as high as 113°C while at the other end, microbes can thrive at temperatures as low as -18°C. They can even tolerate high doses of ionizing, UV radiation and extreme pressures as other ‘alien’ life-forms can even be preserved in liquid nitrogen at -196°C.

Click here to watch part I of the interview and, here for part II. Photo credit: The Next Truth

In June 2018 I had the opportunity to interview the director of the observatory of Riesa (Germany), Mr. S. Schwager. During this interview he explained that not only an asteroid plunging on the Earth violently might have been the cause that living things would have faced extinction.

”We can find life forms everywhere on the Earth. From the most coldest areas until the most hottest areas … in the deepest water channels and in the highest atmospheres, bacterial life can be found. And through the space-station ISS, we know that even microbes have the ability to survive in elastic vacuum.”

So, let’s imaging a big chunk of rock what is traveling with an enormous speed through the universe having an origin of who-knows-where passing through, for instance, the Andromeda Galaxy before hitting a host planet. If an event as such occurs it is most likely that this asteroid comes in contact with several stars, gas clouds, primordial nuclear energy and magnetic pulses from planets and moons.

A comet or asteroid encountering these erratic conditions the universe has to offer could provide the bacterial life-forms, traveling on these rocks, enough ‘fuel’ to evolve in a primordial species from outer-space.

Click here for the official trailer of the movie ‘Splice’.

Are ‘we’ the aliens we are looking for?

Although computer models suggest that a captured meteoroid would typically take some tens of millions of years before colliding with a planet, there are documented viable Earthly bacterial spores that are 40 million years old and are resistant to radiation, while others are able to resume life after being dormant for 25 million years, suggesting that lithopanspermia life-transfers are possible via meteorites exceeding 1 m in size.

One key breakthrough was a study in 2000 that concluded a rock from Mars which was found on Earth. It remained cool enough during its violent ejection from the red planet and its fiery trip through our atmosphere. It definitely makes you wonder if there were any higher life-forms aboard to sustain life 16 million years later here on Earth.

Panspermia; a theory that speaks of how life could originate on one planet and then be transferred to another planet obviously remains highly speculative, but if we ever do find life elsewhere in the Solar System and if that life bears eerie genetic similarities to life on Earth, it would be compelling evidence in Panspermias favor.

However, it is most likely that microbial life on Earth could have traveled here from Mars, the moon or even from another star system, and then evolved into the plethora of species seen today.

In essence, we may all have ancestors from another galaxy.



Maria Anna van Driel

In 2020 I realized I was trapped in a toxic relationship since '00. In Aug. '22 I found the strength to break away, flip my life to become a psychotherapist.