February 24, 2024

Astronaut Alexander Gerst: “It is possible that there are traces of terrestrial life on the moon”

Sciences Alexander Gerst

Effects of terrestrial life on the moon

Production - November 15, 2023, Berlin: The European Space Agency and astronaut Alexander Gerst, a potential candidate for a trip to the Moon as part of the American Artemis program, visit the newsroom of the German Press Agency (dpa).  Astronaut Alexander Gerst hopes that missions to the moon will provide more information about the development of life on Earth.  (To the German News Agency

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is a potential candidate for a trip to the Moon as part of the Artemis programme

Source: German News Agency

You can listen to our WELT podcasts here

In order to view embedded content, it is necessary to obtain your revocable consent to the transfer and processing of personal data, as providers of embedded content require this consent as third-party service providers. [In diesem Zusammenhang können auch Nutzungsprofile (u.a. auf Basis von Cookie-IDs) gebildet und angereichert werden, auch außerhalb des EWR]. By setting the switch to “On”, you agree to this (revocable at any time). This also includes your consent to the transfer of certain personal data to third countries, including the USA, in accordance with Article 49(1)(a) of the GDPR. You can find more information about this. You can revoke your consent at any time using the key and privacy at the bottom of the page.

Repeatedly throughout Earth's history, celestial bodies on a collision course have ejected larger amounts of rock from the planet. Researchers suspect that some fragments fell on the moon. Is it possible that early life may have traveled with you, and can traces of it be found?

aAstronaut Alexander Gerst hopes that missions to the moon will provide more information about the planet The evolution of life on Earth can give. “We may find on the Moon meteorites that came from Earth, that is, rock fragments that were ejected from Earth as a result of a major collision at some time in the past and then landed on the Moon,” Gerst says. The 47-year-old is considered a potential candidate for the American missions “Artemis 4” and “Artemis 5” to the moon, which are scheduled to be planned within a few years.

In terrestrial rocks on the moon can Traces of early terrestrial life Like microbes,” Gerst explained. “That would be very exciting.” It is no longer difficult to find such traces on Earth due to plate tectonics. On the other hand, the Moon has been geologically quiet for billions of years.

It was thrown, turned over, melted

Through tectonic movements, rocks on Earth, along with their artifacts, are thrown up, overturned and melted in a continuous process. “We have had almost nothing since the early days of the Earth, and what little we have is strongly geologically influenced,” said Matthias Neuenhaus of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen. “But on the moon, nothing happens.”

Read also

Mathias Maurer says:

According to current knowledge, the oldest evidence of life on Earth is about 3.5 billion years old. According to current assumptions, the Moon was formed at least 4.46 billion years ago from debris resulting from the collision of the primitive Earth with the Mars-sized celestial body Theia. This could make it a valuable archive of early life on our planet.

Material from Earth on the Moon

Analysis had shown that one of the astronauts during the Apollo missions. The moonstone was brought to Earth in 1971 It can contain materials from Earth. Nieuwenhuis explained that the composition of the small fragment is typical for Earth, but unusual for the Moon. According to estimates, about 36 to 61 kilograms of terrestrial rocks per square kilometer could reach the Moon in just the last 3.9 billion years. In certain places Up to half a ton per square kilometer.

The planetary scientist explained that the impact speed of these materials is fairly low, at about three kilometers per second. “This is why fossils from Earth's early history can still be found there.” Effects of early Earth's microbes They may have been preserved on the Moon to this day in the form of biological and chemical markers.

Astronaut vs robot

Nieuwenhuis believes it is realistic that an astronaut, not a robot, would find the corresponding rock at some point. “A properly trained astronaut has a special eye for his surroundings: What doesn't fit here, what's unusual?” It can head straight for unusual rocks, increasing the chance of a startling discovery.

You can listen to our WELT podcasts here

In order to view embedded content, it is necessary to obtain your revocable consent to the transfer and processing of personal data, as providers of embedded content require this consent as third-party service providers. [In diesem Zusammenhang können auch Nutzungsprofile (u.a. auf Basis von Cookie-IDs) gebildet und angereichert werden, auch außerhalb des EWR]. By setting the switch to “On”, you agree to this (revocable at any time). This also includes your consent to the transfer of certain personal data to third countries, including the USA, in accordance with Article 49(1)(a) of the GDPR. You can find more information about this. You can revoke your consent at any time using the key and privacy at the bottom of the page.

“Aha!” “Ten Minutes of Everyday Knowledge” is WELT’s own knowledge podcast. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we answer everyday questions from the field of science. Subscribe to the podcast on, among other places Spotify, Apple Podcast, Deezer, Amazon Music Or directly via RSS service.