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Ciba Found Symp. 1996;202:304-14; discussion 314-7.

The transfer of viable microorganisms between planets.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Mathematical Physics, University of Adelaide, Australia.


There is increasing acceptance that catastrophic cosmic impacts have played an important role in shaping the history of terrestrial life. Large asteroid and cometary impacts are also capable of displacing substantial quantities of planetary surface material into space. The discovery of Martian rocks on Earth suggests that viable microorganisms within such ejecta could be exchanged between planets. If this conjecture is correct, it will have profound implications for the origin and evolution of life in the solar system.

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