Skip to main content

Comets, Enceladus and panspermia


A growing body of evidence suggests the operation of life and life processes in comets as well in larger icy bodies in the solar system including Enceladus. Attempts to interpret such data without invoking active biology are beginning to look weak and flawed. The emerging new paradigm is that life is a cosmic phenomenon as proposed by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (Lifecloud: the Origin of Life in the Galaxy, 1978) and first supported by astronomical spectroscopy (Wickramasinghe and Allen, Nature 287:518, 1980; Allen and Wickramasinghe, Nature 294:239, 1981; Wickramasinghe and Allen, Nature 323:44, 1986). Comets are the transporters and amplifiers of microbial life throughout the Universe and are also, according to this point of view, the carriers of viruses that contribute to the continued evolution of life. Comets brought life to Earth 4.2 billion years ago and they continue to do so. Space extrapolations of comets, Enceladus and possibly Pluto supports this point of view. Impacts of asteroids and comets on the Earth as well as on other planetary bodies leads to the ejection of life-bearing dust and rocks and a mixing of microbiota on a planetary scale and on an even wider galactic scale. It appears inevitable that the entire galaxy will be a single connected biosphere.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dayal T. Wickramasinghe.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wickramasinghe, N.C., Wickramasinghe, D.T. & Steele, E.J. Comets, Enceladus and panspermia. Astrophys Space Sci 363, 244 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Enceladus
  • Comets
  • Interstellar dust