Thursday, 19 September 2013


This `fossil` was  previously claimed in 2011 to be evidence of space bacteria and of course, life
Scientists from the University of Sheffield believe they may have inadvertently brought life from space back to Earth.

A team from the department of molecular biology and biotechnology sent a balloon 27km into the stratosphere during the recent Perseid meteor shower.

On its return, they found it contained small organisms that hadn't been there before.

The recent Perseid meteor shower
Professor Milton Wainwright, who led the team, insists the organisms did not simply drift up from the Earth's surface.

"It is generally accepted that a particle of the size found cannot be lifted from Earth to heights of, for example, 27km," he said.

"In the absence of a mechanism by which large particles like these can be transported to the stratosphere, we can only conclude that the biological entities originated from space.

"Our conclusion then is that life is continually arriving to Earth from space. Life is not restricted to this planet and it almost certainly did not originate here."

He acknowledged that the consequences of this theory could be revolutionary.

"If life does continue to arrive from space then we have to completely change our view of biology and evolution," Professor Wainwright added. "New textbooks will have to be written!"

The balloon was launched near Chester and returned to the ground near Wakefield.

An unidentified organism brought back on the balloon
It carried microscope studs which were only exposed to the atmosphere when the balloon reached heights of between 22 and 27km.

On examination, the studs were found to have captured a fragment of some diatoms - a major group of algae - along with some unusual biological entities from the stratosphere.

Precautions were taken against the possibility of the studs being contaminated during sampling and processing.

In an attempt to confirm their findings, the team will repeat the experiment next month, to coincide with a meteorite shower associated with Halley's Comet, when there will be large amounts of cosmic dust in the stratosphere.

It is hoped that more new, or unusual, organisms will be found.

The university team's findings have been published in the Journal of Cosmology.

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