The Polonnaruwa Meterorite – a Fall 2015 Revisit by Canadian scientists

Email from Bill Smith to Haley Sapers 2015-7-10

Dear Haley :
Chandra writes : I will certainly send you (Bill and Haley) the meteorite sample – a porous piece of rock about 2-3 cm across.


Before I send Chandra the shipping details, please confirm you are still ready to undertake this project. It would help if you could summarize the experiments you felt necessary. I am hoping you will use additional equipment and techniques.


I am concerned over contamination and will ask Chandra to discuss the status of contamination of the rock with you by email.



Once you are ready and have OK’d the project, I would like to track your progress in a BLOG. I think the global community will be very interested.

The following six (6) peer-reviewed papers represent what was completed, documented and published in 2013 :

1) Vol 21 No. 37 (a) published 10-1-2013 Fossil Diatoms in a new Carbonaceous Meteorite
Abstract : We report the discovery for the first time of diatom frustules in a carbonaceous meteorite that fell in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka on 29 December 2012.
Contamination is excluded by the circumstance that the elemental abundances within the structures match closely with those of the surrounding matrix. There is also evidence of structures morphologically similar to red rain cells that may have contributed to the episode of red rain that followed within days of the meteorite fall. The new data on “fossil” diatoms provide strong evidence to support the theory of cometary panspermia.
2) Vol 21 No. 38 (b) published 13-1-2013 On the Cometary Origin of the Polonnaruwa Meteorite
Abstract : The diatoms discovered in the Polonnaruwa meteorite are interpreted as originating in comets and the dust in interstellar space. The exceptionally porous structure of the Polonnaruwa meteorite points to it being a recently denuded cometary fragment. Microorganisms that were present in a freeze-dried state within pores and cavities may have survived entry to be added to the terrestrial biosphere.
We conclude by reporting that an extract from the interior of a Polonnaruwa meteorite sample, studied under a light microscope at the Medical Research Institute in Colombo, was found to contain living diatoms (See Fig.4). If this result is confirmed in future studies and contamination is excluded, the meteorite would have been shown to contain both fossil as well as living microbes, and panspermia thus demonstrated in real time.
3) Vol 21 No. 39 © published 4-2-2013 Authenticity of the Life Bearing Polonnaruwa Meteorite
Abstract : We show that the Polonnaruwa stones that were collected on 29 December 2012 following a witnessed fireball, in which we found biological structures, do not possess properties that are consistent with fulgurites on the basis of X-ray diffraction studies, and other data. The existence of distinct diatom frustules fused into the rock matrix makes recent contamination unlikely. Contamination
4) Vol 21 No. 40 (d) published 8-2-2013 Living Diatoms In Polonnaura Meteorite – Possible Link to Red and Yellow Rain
Abstract : Meteoroids belonging to a cometary meteor stream, upon entering the atmosphere, could undergo hierarchical fragmentation, and the smallest micron-sized dust might serve to nucleate rain. The larger fragments that survive passage through the atmosphere may end up as the spray of meteorites such as were collected in Sri Lanka on 29th December 2012 and 3rd January 2013. We show tentative evidence for the presence a wide range of genera and species of diatoms which are living, in addition to those discovered in SEM studies that are fossilised.
5) Vol 22 No. 2 published 5-3-2013 Oxygen Isotope, Crystalline and Biological Composition
Abstract: Results of X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis, Triple Oxygen Isotope analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopic (SEM) studies are presented for stone fragments recovered from the North Central Province of Sri Lanka following a witnessed fireball event on 29 December 2012.
The existence of numerous nitrogen depleted highly carbonaceous fossilized biological structures fused into the rock matrix is inconsistent with recent terrestrial contamination.
Oxygen isotope results compare well with those of CI and CT-like chondrites but are inconsistent with the fulgurite hypothesis.
Abstract : The ingress of micrometeorites of cometary origin with densities below ~ 1 g cm-3 into the Earth could average at least 5 tonne per day. Although much of this is burnt upon entry through the atmosphere as meteors, a non-trivial fraction (~10%) which have sizes of ~ 1

Notes on 2013 experiments on the the Polonnaruwa meterorite

From: Richard Hoover []
Sent: May 21, 2013 3:32 PM
To: <>; <>
Subject: Re: Confidential – Jan/Feb 2013 Polonnaruwa Meteorite analysis results

Dear Bill,

Your summary is not entirely correct.

1. Nitrogen analysis.

I personally conducted the study of nitrogen levels present in diatoms, cyanobacterial filaments, Hystrichospheres and actriarch fossils that I found embedded in the Polonnaruwa stones that O personally collected in Sri Lanka. These studies were carried out at NASA/MSFC and at Cardiff University in collaboration with Prof. Wickramasinghe and other members of the team.

The stones contained clearly biological forms that did not contain detectable nitrogen levels.

1. This is not Necessary for the forms to be indigenous to the stones rather than contaminants. If the diatoms & Cyanobacteria had lived on the parent body and died in the last hundred thousand years or so, then they could contain nitrogen and still be extraterrestrial.

2. The absence of nitrogen in Biological remains in the stones is SUFFICIENT to establish that these remains are NOT MODERN CONTAMINANTS.

The Polonnaruwa stones fell on Dec. 29, 2012. Any microbes that entered the stones after they fell would contain detectable levels of Nitrogen. That also applies to the other carbonaceous meteorites that I have examined. Alais fell in 1806— only a little over 200 years ago. The loss of Nitrogen requires geological time periods (millions of years) rather than weeks or centuries.

The other tests 2, 3, and 4 are not necessary to conclude that the fossils in Polonnaruwa are indigenous. Those studies have been performed by many other researchers on a wide variety ofCI1 and CM2 meteorites that also contain fossils that lack nitrogen. Those remains have also been dismissed as recent contaminants—with no effort to answer the problems posed by the missing biomolecules—which would certainly be present if the stones contained post arrival biological remains.

You did not answer my question in the prior e-mail. Did you ask Caleb or any of the other critics how they can explain the absence of these life critical biomolecules in stones contaminated after they landed by living terrestrial microbes? I have discussed this problem with prominent biochemists and microbiologists and have yet to hear any Answer whatsoever.


Bill Smith

William E. (Bill) Smith
Reseach Fellow
Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics
c/o KBP, 4-1-7/8F
No.801, Kagano, Ogaki-City
Gifu 503-0006, Japan

Has Europe detected signs of life on Comet Rosetta/67P

July 6, 2015 : by Bill Smith – post graduate student of Chandra Wickramasinghe.

As NASA has now changed its overall mission tag from “Search for Water” to “Seeking the Signs of Life”; and as missions to Titan, Enceladus, Europa and Mars are planned to “seek for the signs of life”, the astrobiologists of this new generation are no longer constrained to seek life just on earth.

The spread of material from Mars to Earth and back, is proven and accepted; the associated spread of viruses and bacteria, live, dessicated or fossilized, is statistically likely and studied by astrobiologists in Universities around the world. It is now mainstream science, so get over it.

The Hoyle-Wickramasinghe Model of Panspermia has remained the most likely model for over 40 years and over the last 5 years discoveries in deep earth, deep rock and deep space have increased the likelihood that we will find our “little friends” on most solar system bodies – from Mars, Titan, Europa and Enceladus.

Comets with their short orbits contained within the inner solar system, (ie short period comets), have likely seen continuous transfer of microbes since “Day 1”. Rosetta’s Comet 67P is a 8 year orbit comet, so it falls into the category of very likely containing solar system microbes. Personally I am more excited about long period comets like ISON coming in from the Oort Cloud and likely even adjacent stars. There is every possibility they contain new strains of microbes.

But 67P is “one of ours”. So if Rosetta and Philae experiments find “NO” microbes, this will indeed be a major discovery and will be a start of a huge rethink. Even challenging the validity of Panspermia.

The probability is Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe will be again proven right and their vision acknowledged. Surely, in this birth centenary year of Sir Fred, the champagne will flow at Churchill College, Cambridge University, UK.


Report by Chandra Wickramasinghe

A sleepy little Indian town called Changa in the district of Anand in the State of Gujarat came alive from 21st-24th June with the descent of scores of astronomers and physicists from across in India and abroad.  The publication of the very first paper by Albert Einstein on the General Theory of Relativity in 1915 and the centenary of Fred Hoyle’s birth on 24 June 1915 were the dual reason for this noteworthy event.  The venue was a modern, well-appointed campus of the Charusat University of Science and Technology, located some 40 minutes drive away from a 3-star hotel in which all the participants were housed.


The conference was convened by Dr. J.J. Rawal under the auspices of the Indian Planetary Society and chaired by the eminent industrialist and sponsor Dr.Mohanbhal Patel.  Following the opening ceremony on 21 June, with the traditional lighting of oil lamps to signify a new awakening, the meeting was launched.

The first two days of formal sessions on 22nd and 23rd June were largely devoted to matters connected with Relativity and Cosmology.  Jayant Narlikar’s father V.V. Narlikar, who was a student at Cambridge in the 1930’s and a pupil of Sir Arthur Eddington, was the trail blazer for Relativity research in India and he had inspired two generations of young Indians to explore ideas in this field.

The distinguished cosmologist, Professor Thanu Padmanabhan, who was one time Sackler Distinguished Professor at Cambridge University and is now a Professor at the Inter-Universities Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pune India, gave a stimulating opening talk on 22 June in which he described his new ideas about the geometry of space-time and gravity being an emergent property from some deeper thermodynamic principle.  J.V. Narlikar next talked about his collaboration with Fred Hoyle on C-field (creation field) cosmology which was an attempt to formulate rigorously the Steady-State Theory of the Universe.  This was followed by other speakers who covered a variety of more conventional aspects of cosmology and general relativity.

The Fred Hoyle day on 24th June 2015 (Hoyle’s birth centenary) started with a brilliant presentation by Hoyle’s oldest living student Professor Leon Mestel (92).  Leon Mestel was unable to attend in person, but his contribution was read out by Jayant Narlikar.  Then came a talk by Peter Eggleton who had collaborated on stellar structure with Fred Hoyle in the 1960’s.   The session included a talk by Fred Hoyle’s daughter Elizabeth Butler who gave some of her personal reminiscences.  This presentation also peered beyond Fred Hoyle’s relatively impoverished childhood to a more distant lineage that included one noted poet (Ben Preston) and members of the British aristocracy and intellectual elite.

The meeting closed with my 50-minute talk on “Convergence to Cosmic Biology”.   Here I traced the steps in my 40-year-long collaboration with Hoyle that had led us from studies of carbonaceous interstellar dust to the theory that life is a cosmic phenomenon.

The Hoyle-Wickramasinghe Model of Panspermia is now globally acknowledged as the most likely hypothesis of how life spread throughout our Solar System, Galaxy and even Universe.

Since Fred Hoyle’s death in 2001 new results from astronomy, geology and biology, including DNA sequence studies, have shown our theory to be amply vindicated.  A major scientific paradigm shift with far-reaching societal implications appears to loom large on the horizon.

June 20, 2015 : Vindication of the theory of our cometary origins

An article from The Island Online – Sri Lanka, June 20, 2015.

June 24, 2015 marks the centenary of the birth of one of the most illustrious figures of modern science – the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001). Hoyle’s discoveries straddled many branches of astronomy, but he is perhaps best remembered for his long and distinguished collaboration with Sri Lankan scientist Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe concerning the origin of life from comets.
They developed this theory over four decades and when first propounded in 1975 it sparked off a long and bitter scientific controversy. Over a period of several years evidence from various branches of sciences have converged to show that Hoyle and Wickramasinghe were right after all – we are indeed be creatures of the cosmos.
At the time of the first space mission to a comet in 1986 – the European Space Agency’s Giotto Mission to Comet Halley – the prevailing view was that comets were lifeless inorganic “snowballs”. Weeks before the Giotto encounter on March 13, 1986 Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe announced their prediction that the surface of this comet would be “darker than coal”. On the night of March 13 it turned out that their prediction was startlingly verified when, to the dismay of everyone, the comet did indeed appear to be so dark as to be virtually invisible.
The most recent ESA (European Space Agency) mission to a comet – the Rosetta Mission – arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Comet C-G) last year. A small lander called Philae equipped with scientific instruments arrived at the comet’s surface in November 2014, but its solar batteries went dead shortly after transmitting the first batch of data, These first results already confirmed the dark organic-rich nature of the comet’s surface. Science writers frequently reported that these results supported the idea that the building blocks of life came from comets but they rarely credited or recalled the names of the originators of this theory.
With the news this week that the Philae has “woken up”, with its batteries recharged, the expectation is that more data confirming our cosmic origins will come to light. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe may well find their theories vindicated in this auspicious centenary year of the birth of Fred Hoyle.

A MAN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE SEE THE WORLD – The Centenary of Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2015) by Kamala Wickramasinghe

He strode the scientific stage of the 20th century like a colossus inspiring a whole generation of scientists but also reaching out to millions with his lectures and his science fiction works. Throughout a career spanning six decades, he sought answers to some of the biggest questions posed by physics and astronomy and was a tireless and creative pioneer, the latter often leading him to being at odds with the mainstream of science. He invented the Steady State theory, was the founder of astrobiology and he discovered how the chemical elements, which are the basis of all life, are formed. His legacy to modern science is arguably unparalleled and his more radical theories about the origin of life are finally on the brink of being accepted.

Sir Fred Hoyle was a regular guest at my family home during my childhood and early adulthood. His visits were owed to his long scientific collaboration with my father on the cosmic origins of life. Yet Hoyle’s pursuits were not confined to this area. Not only did he have a knowledge of astronomy that seemed encyclopaedic but he was also able to apply his intelligence and creative thinking to a wide array of disciplines. During his visits, he used to engage myself and my siblings in various discussions ranging from Shakespeare to politics to food and of course science. He had a passion for music and walking and used them as tools to aid his creativity. His mother had studied piano at the Royal College of Music and had imbued in him a deep love for the piano. I myself had studied the piano to a high level and Hoyle would often ask me to play whilst he and my father were attempting to unravel the unanswered questions posed by the Universe.

In 1983, prior to one of Hoyle’s visits to our home, I overheard my parents discussing the fact that a Nobel prize had been awarded to Hoyle’s friend, the scientist Willy Fowler, for work in nuclear physics that had been led and essentially carried out by Hoyle. Hoyle had been the originator of a theory of the natural history of our known chemical elements and went on to lead the team that resulted in its proof in the 1950s.

For many hundreds of years philosophers and alchemists had puzzled about how the different chemical elements in the world came to be. The elements that all life depends on seemed to have an origin which eluded discovery until Hoyle led an investigation which unlocked this great mystery of the natural world.

By the 1940s, it was already known that the process by which energy is generated in stars involved nuclear fusion – the conversion at very high temperatures of the simplest element hydrogen to helium. But the precise link between such processes to the evolution of stars, and the formation of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements was yet to be discovered.

Fred Hoyle began to link the evolution of stars to the origin of the chemical elements heavier than helium. As the hydrogen fuel in a star like the sun becomes exhausted, its central core contracts to become hotter and this permits the helium to be transformed into carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.

At this point in the chain of reasoning Fred made a profoundly important scientific discovery. Using the science of nuclear physics he calculated that in order for carbon to be produced in this way, the nucleus of carbon must possess an “excited state energy level” that was not known to exist at this time. Convinced that carbon in the cosmos had to be produced in this way, Hoyle thereupon approached Willy Fowler, Director of the Kellogg Radiation Laboratory at Caltech and asked him to use his laboratory to look for carbon. It was found to be present.

In the early 1950’s Fred Hoyle entered into his historic collaboration with Willy Fowler, and astronomers Geoff and Margaret Burbidge which culminated in a game-changing B2FH paper in Physical Reviews. In this paper Fred and his team showed convincingly how stars evolve over time and in the process synthesise all the known chemical elements through nuclear processes (first fusion, and later addition of neutrons). These chemical elements are eventually scattered back into interstellar space in exploding stars called supernovae, so producing the raw materials of life.

The reason that Hoyle was excluded from the Nobel Prize for this work remains a topic of speculation but was not one which he himself talked about much. Interestingly Willy Fowler had, in the months preceding the award, been asked by Hoyle’s granddaughter to write an article for her school magazine. In the article, Fowler had stated that Fred was the pioneer of the work and its main driving force.

Despite holding prestigious posts – Hoyle was Plumian Professor at Cambridge and founder and Director of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge – he was often viewed as being anti-establishment. He did not allow himself to be confined to hypotheses which upheld the status quo of mainstream science, often looking for solutions in unsuspected places. Throughout our history all revolutionary advances in science have sprung from ideas that were outside the realm of conventional belief systems and, sadly, throughout our history the originators of these ideas have been viewed with suspicion.

Although Fred Hoyle’s contributions extend across most of astronomy, he is perhaps best known as the inventor of the Steady-State theory of the Universe. Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the expansion of the Universe in the 1930’s had led to a widespread belief in the so-called Big-Bang theory of the cosmos which was readily assimilated into the establishment, not least perhaps for its fit with religious views of creation.

During the 1950’s Hoyle and his collaborators began to challenge this theory. They postulated that despite the observed expansion of the Universe – galaxies getting further apart with time – the Universe could be in a steady state if new matter and new galaxies formed continuously in the space vacated by the expansion. The theory led to many definite predictions. Supporters of the Big-Bang theory (a term coined by Hoyle as a disparaging appellation) were quick to devise experiments that sought to disprove the predictions of steady state cosmology, and by the early 1960’s such predictions appeared to be going against the Steady-State theory.

The fate of the Steady-State theory appeared to be finally sealed by the discovery in 1965 of the Cosmic Microwave Background which was interpreted as the relic energy of the Big Bang, now thought to have occurred 13.8 billion years ago. But the last word may yet to be said in relation to how it all began. Multiverses, eternal inflation, oscillating universes alternating between expansion and contractions still remain in currency – and in some of these models the mathematics of the Steady State universe appears to persist.

Perhaps Fred Hoyle’s most daring scientific exploit relates to his 40-year long collaboration with my father Chandra Wickramasinghe on the cosmic origins of life. After identifying the great profusion of complex organic molecules – which are the building blocks of life itself – in interstellar dust in the 1970’s, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe became gradually convinced that life is a truly cosmic phenomenon. Their ideas were viewed as being heretical at the time but Hoyle was never frightened of finding solutions outside the realm of orthodoxy. He turned accepted precepts on their head, stating that the cosmic nature of biology will seem as obvious to future generations as the Sun being the centre of the Universe seems obvious to the present generation.

Up to the time of his death in 2001 evidence in support of this point of view has accumulated from fields as diverse as space science, microbiology, geology and genetics. The holy grail of biology that life began on Earth is now under serious threat, and science is slowly beginning to admit this in various ways. The discovery of planets similar to Earth in great profusion in the Milky Way (an estimate of 140 billion has recently been mentioned) adds to the possibility that we live in vast connected biospheres. These views are only gradually and somewhat reluctantly being conceded at the present time. But the trend is clear. A major paradigm shift is in sight, and Fred Hoyle’s contribution in this area of science will perhaps shine as a guiding star.

Kamala Wickramasinghe

June 2015

Greetings from World Scientific!

Dear Prof. Wickramasinghe,
Greetings from World Scientific!
Thank you for choosing to publish your book with us. Vindication of Cosmic Biology: Tribute to Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) is officially published!
I would like to provide you with an update on several promotional activities for this book. We will feature it in our New and Forthcoming catalogue, annual catalogue and email promotions. Besides, we will write to periodicals reviewers as mentioned in your PQ to understand their interest to provide a review for your book.
Would you like to have some copies of the flyer to be distributed to your colleagues and participants of conferences that you will attend? We would appreciate if you could provide us with mailing lists which could be used to promote your book. It could be your personal, membership, business, websites, blogs and other lists.
You may recommend your peers and colleagues to purchase a copy of your book at : Vindication of Cosmic Biology: Tribute to Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001)
By quoting WSSPPS20 upon checking out their shopping cart, they will enjoy 20% discount. If you have a personal website/blog, do link the website with yours.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Regards,
Suh Li
Marketing Department
World Scientific Publishing

Replay : 2015-1-25 : 67P’s perihelion

From: Chandra Wickramasinghe Sent: ‎2015-‎01-‎25 14:13 To: William (Bill) E. Smith Subject: Re: Simple orbit mathematics

Dear Bill

The pressure exerted by sunlight (radiation pressure force) would not be significant for the comet, but only act on the dust escaping from the surface.  That is why the dust tails curve away from the gas tails in comets.  At perihelion the solar energy arriving at the surface would be greater and so raise the surface temperature.  This could have the effect of increasing the sublimation rate of ices, and along with the water vapour gas dust particles could also escape.

However, my view is that the extra solar heat conducted into regions tens of metres deep would lead to warm lakes containing biology, and biological replication with gas production (methane, CO2) would rupture the surface and produce geysers carrying microbes with the gas.

Nuclear energy sources (radioactive decay of Al-26, for example) would be confined to the early history of comets in the solar system.

Does this answer your question?


Chandra: Yes, the tidal forces are totally negligible.


Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe

Dear C, thanks. Perfect answer. I assume as you do not mention gravity, that the sun’s gravitational attraction , max at the perihelion, is not contorting the comet? Sent from my Windows Phone


2015-1-25 : 67P’s perihelion is further out from earth (between earth and mars) I was wondering what the “pressure” really was on the comet?

Dear Chandra:  In my student days I would not have had to ask you this question. But I have not enough time to relearn orbit mathematics even though I have “scanned” this :

I am thinking about the force exerted on a orbiting comet as it approaches its perihelion. I assume the force is maximum at the perihelion.

As 67P’s perihelion is further out from earth (between earth and mars) I was wondering what the “pressure” really was on the comet? Are you sure this is what is causing the geysers to increase? Somewhere you wrote/implied that the geyser-causing pressure might be nuclear?

2014-12-10 : Rosetta Water Isotope Measure. Source of Earth’s Water not the same as 67P

One of the first papers released post Rosetta landing states “the Rosetta mission found that the comet’s water contains more of a hydrogen isotope called deuterium than water on Earth does”.

I have always thought that the source of water on earth was more likely  long period Comets coming in from the Oort Cloud – or even in fact comets sling-shot in from an adjacent star.

To me this is no surprise. Just like Halley, 67P is a short period comet. But could its water  have been ejected from MARS or VENUS? I must check the Rosetta paper and the hydrogen isotope ratio compared to that of water measured on other bodies such as on Mars.

The hydrogen isotope measure could be thoughts of as a fingerprint of the water’s source : ie from

  • Earth
  • another solar system planet
  • Asteroid (usually rock with minimal water)
  • Kuiper Belt Comet
  • Oort Cloud Comet
  • Adjacent Solar Systems

We still seem to be looking at evidence from an “earth centric” point of view.  I expect one day we might discover the hydrogen isotope fingerprint ratio is ideal to determine the source star. I think though this will not be as useful a fingerprint as the DNA/Protein Fingerprint of the Viruses and Bacteria.

2014-12-08 : Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe offers guidance to those “seeking the signs of life” .

It was a paradigm shifting moment when in the summer of 2013 NASA’s Mars Curiosity Press Conference displayed the following backdrop :

NASA Search for Life
NASA Search for Life

So NASA was tacitly acknowledging that its umbrella mission was no longer the “Search for Water” but was now “Seeking the Signs of Life”. The Kepler Mission had caused a “consciousness change” in human expectations for life off the planet earth. With Kepler telling us that almost every star in the Milky Way Galaxy has at least one habitable planet, it was suddenly much more likely that “Life is a Cosmic Phenomenon” than that “Life started on Earth and is unique to Earth”.

By 2013 , the 2009 book “Virolution” by Frank Ryan was already having a profound impact on man’s understanding of “symbiosis” – the idea that the most successful life-forms across the earth and likely the Universe, were viruses and bacteria, and that even “sophisticated entities” like humans perhaps existed as an environment for their occupation.

The realization that viruses and bacteria thrive in the most extreme conditions on earth : in deep ice; in deep rock below deep oceans and even outside the International Space Station, makes it more than likely that humans have inadvertently contaminated every body where we have sent probes, even though we have worked diligently to avoid contamination.

2013 was also the year NASA’s chief Astrobiologist Chris McKay started talking about Panspermia and how asteroid and meteor collisions likely carried  microbes from planet to planet in the early days of the formation of the planets. It is now mainstream science that of the 60,000 meteorites found on earth, 124 have been confirmed to come from Mars.

Universe Today, Dec 3, 2014 : According to a recent paper submitted by an international team of scientists, that evidence may have arrived on Earth three and a half years ago aboard a meteorite that fell in the Moroccan desert. Believed to have broken away from Mars 700,000 years ago, so-called Tissint meteorite has internal features that researchers say appear to be organic materials. The paper appeared in the scientific journal Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences. In it, the research team – which includes scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) – indicate organic carbon is located inside fissures in the rock. All indications are the meteorite is Martian in origin. “So far, there is no other theory that we find more compelling,” says Philippe Gillet, director of EPFL’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Laboratory. He and his colleagues from China, Japan and Germany performed a detailed analysis of organic carbon traces from a Martian meteorite, and have concluded that they have a very probable biological origin’.

As one of the original Rosetta Mission  Principal Investigators,  Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe has a long history of studying the interstellar medium. He and Sir Fred Hoyle, who would have been 100 next year (2015), developed the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe Model of the Panspermia. This was first proposed over 3 decades ago (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981).  According to this theory comets carry not only organic molecules that could serve as chemical building blocks of life, but life itself in the form of freeze-dried microorganisms – bacteria and viruses.

There are two types of comets : the long period comets with orbits of 100,000 years originating in the Oort Cloud at the very edge of the Solar System;  then the short period comets like 67P and Halley . The orbit of 67P is just 7 years. Wickramasinghe studied 67P last time around the sun 7 years ago, in 2007.   One of the biggest questions concerning these short period comets is about what is causing the “geysers” to shoot out water and particles creating the well known cometary tails. It is much easier to understand the long period “Sungrazer Comets” like ISON which pass very close to the Sun and are often “sublimated” by the heat.  But when the closest a comet gets to the Sun is between Earth and Mars, then there is no extreme heat? So just what is causing the pressure that forces the “geysers”, already seen coming out from 67P.

Two Papers are offered by Professor Wickramasinghe which Provide Background Reading for Rosetta Scientists   Wickramasinghe has made available two papers to help the next generation of scientists understand the history of Cometary Panspermia theory and to encourage debate on these hypotheses as experimental evidence starts to be published by the Rosetta Team  :

1. with Max Wallis :  Outgassing due to ice-sublimation was already evident in September 2014 at 3.3AU, with surface temperature peaks of 220-230K, which implies impure ice mixtures with less strongly-bound H2O.   Increasing rates of sublimation as Rosetta follows comet 67P around its 1.3 AU perihelion will further reveal the nature and prevalence of near-surface ices.

2. with Milton Wainwright : The evidence of refrozen seas and lakes plus the early outgassing activity point to the action of microbiology, which could also explain more distant outbursts.   While microorganisms probably require liquid water bodies for their early colonising of a comet, they can inhabit cracks in ice and sub-crustal snow, especially if they contain anti-freeze salts and biopolymers.  Some organisms metabolise at temperatures as low as 230K, explaining the coma out at 3.9AU and our prediction is that they would become increasingly active in the near-surface layers as the comet approaches its 1.3 AU perihelion. The detection of organic molecules at the surface by Philae and through IR imaging

These three scientists seek not to publish early to stake any claims. Rather they seek only to encourage and guide their younger peers – the  Rosetta and NASA scientists- as they embrace the NASA challenge of “Starting the Difficult Challenge of Seeking the Signs of Life”.

Life is a Cosmic Phenomenon