Fiery rock will test whether life came from space

Foton M3A rock will be hurled into space on a rocket and subjected to the fiery heat of re-entry into Earth's atmosphere to test whether life could have hitched a ride from one planet to another in debris from an asteroid strike.

The rock is one of 35 experiments to fly on a European Space Agency mission called Foton M3, which is set to launch on 14 September from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Some scientists say life could have spread around the solar system by hitching rides inside rocks blasted from one planet or moon to another by asteroid impacts.

To investigate that idea, John Parnell at the University of Aberdeen in the UK designed the experiment, which involves a 400-million-year-old rock formed from sediment at the bottom of an ancient lake in Scotland.

The fist-sized rock will be protected inside the spacecraft during launch, then uncovered when the craft re-enters the atmosphere at 8 kilometres per second.

Link & Image: New Scientist
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