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Proceedings Paper

The cometary biosphere
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Paper Abstract

Recent observations of cyanobacterial fossils on carbonaceous chondrites have conclusively established the presence of fossil organisms on extraterrestrial bodies widely presumed to be comets. Likewise, the data from four cometary flyby (and one impact) missions and the exploration of a peculiar S-type asteroid, show evidence of liquid water in the past or present. In addition, sand grains returned from the tail of comet P/Wild-2 demonstrate that comets accrete inner Solar System material. So it is a short step to propose the separate and independent existence of a cometary biosphere, the ecosystem of organisms that exploit the niche of an extraterrestrial environment. This paper attempts to lay the framework for such a hypothetical ecosystem, and establish criteria for its continued existence and spread.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 October 2007
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6694, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X, 66940H (1 October 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.729094
Show Author Affiliations
Robert B. Sheldon, Universities Space Research Association (United States)
National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)
Richard B. Hoover, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6694:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Y. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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