It is no secret that one of the projects that has kept space agencies the most busy is the search for the existence of life beyond Earth. This has largely been done through the search for exoplanets (planets that exist outside of our solar system) that fit the basic requirements for life as we know it.
Success on this front is not lacking. We have found a universe full of worlds both great and small. However, one scientist from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the Goethe University Frankfurt thinks that simply being "Earth-like" may not be enough.
Dr. Claudius Gros' theory appears in a paper published at the scientific journal Astrophysics and Space Science.
In short, Gros asserts that many seemingly habitable exoplanets may not be capable of sustaining life in the long run."It is therefore certain that we will discover a large number of exoplanets that are inhabitable intermittently but not permanently. Life would, indeed, be possible on these planets, but it would not have the time to grow and develop independently," the physicist argues.
So, what to do? How to get complex alien life?
In his research, Gros proposes that we provide what is necessary to jump-start life on these habitable planets, and then work as we can to sustain this life. Gros aptly calls this effort The Genesis Project (Star Trek, anyone?).
The necessary conditions to make life happen can be recreated (via terraforming), but the Genesis Project proposes to take this further by creating these conditions on discovered exoplanets that are already suitable for life as we know it. This means taking a shortcut of...well, billions of years.
Technologically, Gros argues that it can be done with current technologies, using small, unmanned interstellar ships that will build automated gene laboratories to engineer single-celled organisms on the target exoplanet. This ecosphere would, ideally, develop into more complex life, similar to the Earth's experience. The only difference is, this time, we would have a hand on it.
Contributing to life in space would be an achievement unparalleled in space exploration.