Meteoroids, according to Wikipedia, are fragments of material that wander through space and have a size that varies between smaller than an asteroid and larger than star dust. This insignificance, however, is reversed in light of the hypothesis that these bodies were responsible for taking phosphine molecules into the atmosphere of Venus.
The sulfuric clouds of Venus appear artificially colored in blue in the image captured by the Galileo spacecraft in February 1990. (NASA / JPL / Disclosure)
Phosphine, a molecule composed of one phosphorus and three hydrogen atoms, is found in microbes that live inside animals. Last week, it was found in the upper layers of the neighboring planet, where the temperature and pressure are similar to those of sea level on Earth.
The hypothesis was born from a memory of two researchers from Harvard University, the renowned astrophysicist Abraham (Avi) Loeb, who heads the institution’s department, and his graduate student Amir Siraj. The memory is of the approximately 60 kilogram meteorite that, in July 2017, crossed the Australian skies, flying through the upper atmosphere of the Earth and scaring half a country and then heading back to Deep Space.
In April, Loeb and Siraj published an article in which they argued that it was possible for these meteoroids (which occasionally cross the upper parts of our atmosphere) to behave like panthermic agents, with panspermia being the hypothesis that life leaps from one world to another, carried by celestial bodies like meteoroids, meteors and comets, throughout the Universe – Loeb is a big fan of this idea.
“The total number of objects [potentially life-bearing] captured by exoplanetary systems over the life of the solar system is 100 million to 10 billion. Each of them has the possibility of carrying, in its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere, 10 to 1,000 live microbes “, wrote Siraj and Loeb in the study published in the scientific journal Life in April this year.
According to Siraj and Loeb, the July 2017 meteoroid took, after its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere, something around 10,000 microbial colonies to accompany it on its journey through space.