Abstracts due March 4th
Theme: How to Build a Habitable Planet
Session Topic: Beyond the Catastrophe: Impact Generated Environments and the Search for Life
Meteorite impacts create unique microbial niches that may have served as habitats on early Earth and are important astrobiological targets on other bodies such as Mars. Impact generated lithologies represent understudied habitats both for microbial colonization as well for the potential to preserve biological evidence. During the Late Heavy Bombardment (affecting the early inner Solar System), the impact flux on the inner planets was significantly higher. Intriguingly, the earliest evidence for life on Earth coincides with the end of LHB, thereby suggesting that impact events profoundly influenced the early evolution, if not origin, of life. Considering the ubiquity of impact events in the Solar System and the effect they have on the habitability of a planet, a better understanding of the biological potential of such environments has implications for current and future life-detection missions. This session will explore the habitability of ancient and modern impact-generated substrates and environments, the possible effects on the origins and evolution of life, and the potential of such systems to preserve biosignatures.