2 Minutes with Haley M. Sapers
July 5, 2011
Meteorites tend to be associated with the destruction they can unleash on a planet. But research by graduate student Haley Sapers at The University of Western Ontario is revealing more about their surprising role in helping various organisms blossom, possibly even in the earliest days of life on Earth.
|Haley M. Sapers||
My research is in a field called astrobiology, which is part of the planetary sciences and it's an interdisciplinary field which takes the sciences of biology, chemistry and Earth science and combines them into an emerging field. I'm looking at rocks formed by meteorite impacts such as this one from the Ries Crater. In these rocks are pieces of glass. Glass forms when melted rocks are quenched extremely fast and they cool so fast that minerals can't form. In these glasses, I've found structures, tiny little tunnels that look very much like the bioalteration that's found in some glasses under the ocean. These structures have never been found in impact glasses before and bioalteration has never been seen in impact glasses before either. And if indeed they were formed by biological activity, it would be the first report of bioalteration of glasses such as these. This provides a new niche for microorganisms here on Earth and it also has implications for life on early Earth, the origin of life and life elsewhere in the solar system.