Above each distant peak and skyward ship,
Fast-flowing streams of dust bombard the Earth;
Releasing beads of life from Newton’s grip,
Transporting them through space to bring new birth.
Did everything we know just hitch a ride,
On streams of dust that sailed an unseen tide;
These particles just drifting in the sky,
May hide the echoes of a time gone by.
Previously it was believed that asteroids were the main mechanism through which life was transported between planets. However, new research has found that powerful flows of space dust (which can move at speeds of up to 70 km per hour) are constantly bombarding the Earth, creating gigantic flows in the atmosphere. This hypervelocity space dust can collide with particles high up in the Earth’s atmosphere (i.e. greater than 150 km above the surface), knocking them out of the reach of Earth’s gravity, before carrying them for large distances through outer space.
Certain types of plants and bacteria can survive in outer space, and so it is possible that if they are present in the Earth’s atmosphere they might collide with fast-moving steams of space dust and be carried to another planet. Likewise, life on our planet might actually have originated from biological particles brought to Earth in streams of space dust. Further research into observing some of the particles that are currently “afloat” in Earth’s upper atmosphere may reveal more about the formation of life on our planet.
An audio version of the poem can be heard here.