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Crater Nurseries

September 14, 2005

After a devastating meteor strikes, the resulting crater may be the key to life.


Cradles for life. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We normally associate meteor impacts with mass extinctions, like the one that killed the dinosaurs. But now geologist Gordon Osinski of the Canadian Space Agency and his colleagues say impact craters could also have fostered early life on our planet and others. In the Canadian Arctic, they found fossil hydrothermal systems—or hot springs—around the rim of a large crater.

GORDON OSINSKI (Canadian Space Agency):
And a lot of people have suggested that hydrothermal systems are where life actually originated. And they had in mind the Yellowstone volcanic hydrothermal systems, but—who knows—maybe life could have started in one of these impact hydrothermal systems, too.

Osinski says meteors were bombarding Earth about the same time scientists believe life began. And he says the rims of craters might be a good place to look for signs of life on Mars.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.