Directed Panspermia Using Interstellar Comets

Christopher P. McKay, Paul C.W. Davies, Simon P. Worden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It may be that habitable planets are common but life is rare. If future advances in telescopes increasingly suggest this is so, humankind might feel motivated to seed lifeless planets with resilient terrestrial organisms or synthetic forms designed to thrive on the target planet. A useful mechanism for achieving this goal at a relatively low cost is to use interstellar comets transiting the Solar System to convey microbial cargoes toward nearby planetary systems, where they could disseminate the inoculum via their dust trails. Conversely, it is conceivable that terrestrial life was deliberately seeded in this matter, a hypothesis that could be tested if we found evidence for life on other Solar System bodies that displayed common basic biochemical signatures. Our scenario raises a number of ethical and technological challenges that need to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1451
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Extraterrestrial civilization
  • Interstellar objects
  • Panspermia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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