Space Science Reviews

, Volume 156, Issue 1, pp 239-252

First online:

Panspermia, Past and Present: Astrophysical and Biophysical Conditions for the Dissemination of Life in Space

  • Paul S. WessonAffiliated withDepartment of Physics and Astronomy, University of WaterlooHerzberg Institute of Astrophysics Email author 

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Astronomically, there are viable mechanisms for distributing organic material throughout the Milky Way. Biologically, the destructive effects of ultraviolet light and cosmic rays means that the majority of organisms arrive broken and dead on a new world. The likelihood of conventional forms of panspermia must therefore be considered low. However, the information content of damaged biological molecules might serve to seed new life (necropanspermia).


Radiation pressure Cosmic rays Micro-organisms Viruses Information