"We have a moral obligation to plan for the propagation of life, and even the transfer of human life to other solar systems which can be transformed via microbial activity, thereby preparing these worlds to develop and sustain complex life," Mautner said. "Securing that future for life can give our human existence a cosmic purpose."
These are certainly lofty plans, but he proposes that we send a variety of basic organisms to "potentially fertile" worlds throughout the universe (to worlds from a few to over 500 light years away). Using early-Earth as an example, organisms like cyanobacteria could be sent to alien worlds to go into reproductive overdrive, feasting on toxic gases and releasing byproducts such as oxygen.
These little biological starter kits would support a brand new biosphere, helping more complex life forms to develop and evolve.
(Is anyone else thinking this was borrowed from the plot of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock?)
In his paper, Mautner goes into some detail about what this galactic seeding mission would look like. As current launch costs are astonishingly high (using current technology, it costs $10,000 to get a one kilogram payload off the Earth's surface and into space), the space seeding pods would need to be small. But using tiny "pods" weighing only 0.1 grams, as many as 100,000 microorganisms could be accommodated to give a reasonable chance of success.