Indian scientist examines possibility of life on planets other than Earth

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New Delhi, December 25 (ANI): A recent article by Ashwini Kumar Lal, from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, has examined the possibility of life on planets and satellites within our solar system and beyond.

His article, titled, 'Searching for Life on Habitable Planets and Moons', has come in the light of findings of numerous space probes and theoretical research undertaken in the fields of astrobiology and observational astronomy over several decades.

In his article, Lal lays stress on the theory of panspermia, which view life as widespread throughout the cosmos.

Panspermia lends support to the possibility of life being found on other planets besides Earth and satellites within the solar system and beyond.

Central to the theories of panspermia is the belief that the "seeds of life" are ubiquitous and that they were embedded in meteors, asteroids, and comets, and deposited upon Earth as well as to other habitable bodies in the universe.

Considerable evidence has been presented in support of pansermia by scientists R.Joseph and by Fred Hoyle and N.C.Wickramsinghe.

Wickramasinghe and colleagues have provided nearly convincing evidence that dust grains in interstellar clouds could contain spores, desiccated bacteria, and living microbes which survive in comets on cloud condensation to stars and planets.

The large-scale presence of organic molecules in the interstellar clouds, comets and asteroids, and evidence of amino acids in carbonaceous meteorites support a cosmic perspective on the origin of life.

One hundred fifty different chemical compounds, including several organic compounds and amino acids with C, H, O, and N as major constituents have been detected in the interstellar clouds, circumstellar envelopes, and comets since 1965.

Also, biomarkers like glycine and sugar-glycolaldehyde have been identified in Sagittarius B2, a dense star-forming cloud of interstellar gas at the heart of Milky Way Galaxy.

As for the hotspots for search for life within the solar system, Lal cites the research works of Naganuma and Sekine; as well as that of Schulze-Makuch, who have named Mars, the Jovian satellites - Europa, Ganymade, Io, and Callisto; and Saturn's Enceladus and Titan.

According to Lal, chances for finding life beyond the solar system have brightened up, with the launching of NASA's Kepler and ESA's COROT Missions.

While the former has been designed to survey the Milky Way Galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone, the latter will be looking for rocky planets - several times larger than Earth, around nearby stars in our parent galaxy.

The most positive sign for the possibility of life on other worlds has come with the recent discovery of the lightest Earth-like exoplanet with mass only thrice that of Earth with possibly abundant liquid water some 20.5 light years away in the constellation Libra. (ANI)

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