Michael Mautner of Virginia Commonwealth University says that part of the human condition we enjoy is a responsibility to ensure life continues after our home, Earth, dies. It will happen, someday. And panspermia missions now will fulfill our moral obligation to see that life on other planets gets a fair chance, even if we won't ever see the results.
As Mautner explains in his study published in an upcoming issue of theJournal of Cosmology, the strategy is to deposit an array of primitive organisms on potentially fertile planets and protoplanets throughout the universe... (he) has identified potential breeding grounds, which include extrasolar planets, accretion disks surrounding young stars that hold the gas and dust of future planets, and - at an even earlier stage - interstellar clouds that hold the materials to create stars.
To transport the microorganisms, Mautner proposes using sail-ships. These ships offer a low-cost transportation method with solar sails, which can achieve high velocities using the radiation pressure from light. The microorganisms could be bundled in tiny capsules, each containing about 100,000 microorganisms and weighing 0.1 micrograms.
The article addresses criticisms such as the possibility of interfering with any pre-existing extraterrestrial life.
First of all, Mautner explains that we can minimize these chances by targeting very primitive locations where life could not have evolved yet. In addition, he argues that, since extraterrestrial life is not currently known to exist, our first concern should be with preserving our family of organic gene/protein life that we know exists.
So what's the consensus? Are we morally obligated to "keep the ball rolling" as far as life in the Universe goes?