From Daniel Oberhaus at Motherboard Vice:
“We are investigating the possibility of interplanetary migration of microorganisms,” Kensei Kobayashi, the lead research on the Tanpopo mission, told me during the recent NASA astrobiology conference. “Cosmic dust is a very promising carrier of organic compounds, but it’s exposed directly to solar radiation. Our hypothesis is that there are some kinds of extraterrestrial compounds that can survive and be delivered to Earth by cosmic dust.”
Researchers at the European Space Agency are preparing to launch the OREOcube, which will be attached to the ISS and will focus on exposing “organic thin films” deposited on an inorganic substrate (read: rocks) to space to see how the Sun affects organic-inorganic interactions. The main goal is to see how photo-chemical evolution may affect the survival and transportation of organics through space. These organics will consist of amino acids, nucleobases and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the possible starting materials for life, which NASA estimates to be associated with up to 20 percent of carbon in the universe. More.
If life did come to Earth from outer space, further questions about its origin would become immensely complicated, possibly unresearchable. Are we prepared for that?
See also: What we know and don’t know about the origin of life