“The Genesis Project”— Scientists Propose Transplanting Earth Life to Alien Planets

 

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Scientists are exploring are proposing transplanting life to planets outside our solar system that are not permanently inhabitable. a Genesis mission could be achieved within a few decades with the aid of interstellar unmanned micro-spacecraft that could be accelerated and slowed down passively. On arrival, an automated gene laboratory on board the probe would synthesize a selection of single-cell organisms with the aim of establishing an ecosphere of unicellular organisms on the target planet. This could subsequently develop autonomously into complex life forms.


In recent years, the search for exoplanets has identified very different types. “It is therefore certain that we will discover a large number of exoplanets that are inhabitable intermittently but not permanently. Life would, indeed, be possible on these planets, but it would not have the time to grow and develop independently,” says Claudius Gros from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt.

 

“In this way, we could jump the approximately four billion years that had been necessary on Earth to reach the Precambrian stage of development out of which the animal world developed about 500 million years ago,” explains Gros. In order not to endanger any life that might already be present, Genesis probes would only head for uninhabited exoplanets.

The mission’s actual duration played no role in the Genesis project, since the time scales for the subsequent geo-evolutionary development of the target planet lies in the range between a few tens of millions and a hundred million years.

 

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The Genesis project therefore has no direct benefit for people on Earth. “It would, however, enable us to give life something back,” says Gros. In this context, he is also discussing whether biological incompatibilities would have to be expected in the case of colonization of a second Earth fully developed in terms of evolution. “That seems at present to be highly unlikely,” says the physicist, dampening any excessive expectations.

The image at the top of the page is artist’s conception depicting an Earth-like planet orbiting an evolved star that has formed a stunning planetary nebula. Earlier in its life, this planet may have been like one of the eight newly discovered worlds orbiting in the habitable zones of their stars.  David A. Aguilar (CfA)

More information: Claudius Gros; Developing Ecospheres on Transiently Habitable Planets: The Genesis Project; Astrophysics and Space Science (in press); DOI: arxiv.org/abs/1608.06087

The Daily Galaxy via Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

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