Astronomers have long thought that life moves through thesolar system on the backs of meteorites, meaning that lifeon Earth was “seeded” from another planet. New researchshows that it’s not necessary for the actual microbes totravel through space. The fact that a meteorite impactbrings phosphorous to a planet may be enough.
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A meteorite impact helped wipe out the dinosaurs 65 millionyears ago. Now satellites have discovered that anotherimpact the same size hit the Earth more recently, whenhumans were alive. It didn’t end our species because it hitduring an ice age and sank into the Antarctic ice. Much morerecently, in England, a woman was hit by a meteorite whilehanging her laundry out to dry.
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On September 29, a crazily-rotating, dumbbell-shaped asteroid the size of a small city will pass closer to Earth than any other asteroid this century?but it won’t hit us. When astronomers say asteroid Toutatis will come “close,” they mean it will be a million miles away from us.
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The dinosaurs died when an asteroid hit the Earth, but we’re determined not to. Astronomers say they’re having success in finding every large asteroid that poses a threat to life on Earth. The next step will be to look for smaller objects that could cause localized destruction if they impacted the Earth. But once they find them, what can they do about them? Nudge them out of the way.

NASA’s Lindley Johnson says, “The survey officially started in 1998 and to date more than 700 objects of an estimated population of about 1,100 have been discovered, so the effort is now believed to be over 70% complete and well on the way to meeting its objective by 2008.”
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