Xeno's strange news awards blog.
Balloon sent to edge of atmosphere picks up organisms “that can only have come from space. British scientists believe they have found evidence alien life after sending a balloon to the edge of space. The team of scientists sent a balloon 27km into the stratosphere and captured small biological organisms they say can only have come from space.The group, headed up by astrobiologist Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, claims the “seeds of life” have been transported between planets by passing meteors.
Professor Wickramasinghe, 74, and his team from the University of Sheffield sent a specially designed balloon into the atmosphere above Chester during the annual Perseid meteor shower.
The balloon was carrying sterile microscope slides which were only exposed to the atmosphere at heights of 27km.
When the balloon fell back down to Earth the scientists discovered microscopic aquatic algae on the microscope slides – which they say can only be alien life forms.
Their findings were published in a paper during the Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology conference in San Diego, USA, last month.
Prof Wickramasinghe said: “Biological entities of this nature have not previously been reported occurring in the stratosphere.
“The entities varied from a presumptive colony of ultra-small bacteria to two unusual individual organisms – part of a diatom frustule and a 200 micron-sized particle mass interlaced with biofilm and biological filaments.”
He said these findings were evidence for the theory of “cometary panspermia”.
This states that the “seeds of life” exist all over the Universe and travel through space from one planet to another.
When the balloon fell back down to Earth the scientists discovered microscopic aquatic algae on the microscope slides – which they say can only be alien life forms. An internal microscopic image of an alien mass of bacteria found is pictured above.
Sceptics believe “biological entities” captured in the stratosphere could have been carried high into the atmosphere from Earth – and not from space.
But Prof Wickramasinghe said: “The biological entities found are particles of relatively large size and mass.
“By our current understanding of the means by which such particles can be transferred from Earth to the stratosphere they could not – in the absence of a violent volcanic eruption occurring within a day of the sampling event – make such a journey.
“If there is no mechanism by which these biological entities could be elevated from Earth to the stratosphere then it must have arrived from above the stratosphere and have been incoming to Earth.”
The Sri Lankan-born British mathematician, astronomer and astrobiologist is one of the leading proponents of the theory of cometary panspermia.
Panspermia is Greek for “seeds everywhere”.
The panspermia theory states that seeds of life can be spread through space from one location to another. and that life on Earth may have originated through this process.
It requires meteors blasted from a planet’s surface serve to act as transfer vehicles for spreading biological material from one planet to another.
He has been working on this for a while:
On the 20 January 2001 the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) conducted a balloon flight from Hyderabad, India to collect stratospheric dust from a height of 41 km with a view to testing for the presence of living cells. The collaborators on this project included a team of UK scientists led by Wickramasinghe. In a paper presented at a SPIE conference in San Diego in 2002 the detection of evidence for viable microorganisms from 41 km above the Earth’s surface was presented.
However, the experiment did not present evidence as to whether the findings are incoming microbes from space rather than microbes carried up to 41 km from the surface of the Earth.
In 2005 the ISRO group carried out a second stratospheric sampling experiment from 41 km altitude and reported the isolation of three new species of bacteria including one that they named Janibacter hoylei sp.nov. in honour of Fred Hoyle. However, these facts do not prove that bacteria on Earth originated in the cosmic environment. Samplings of the stratosphere have also been carried out by Yang et al. (2005, 2009). During the experiment strains of highly radiation-resistant Deinococcus bacterium were detected at heights up to 35 km. Nevertheless these authors have abstained from linking these discoveries to panspermia. Wickramasinghe was also involved in coordinating analyses of the red rain in Kerala in collaborations with Godfrey Louis.
Interesting guy. I hope he finds what he is seeking and is someday recognized for his effort and vision. Related:
It’s a shock: Life on Earth may have come from out of this world
A group of international scientists including a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher have confirmed that life really could have come from out of this world.
The team shock compressed an icy mixture, similar to what is found in comets, which then created a number of amino acids – the building blocks of life. The research appears in advanced online publication Sept. 15 on the Nature Geosciences journal website.
This is the first experimental confirmation of what LLNL scientist Nir Goldman first predicted in 2010 and again in 2013 using computer simulations performed on LLNL’s supercomputers, including Rzcereal and Aztec.
Goldman’s initial research found that the impact of icy comets crashing into Earth billions of years ago could have produced a variety of prebiotic or life-building compounds, including amino acids. Amino acids are critical to life and serve as the building blocks of proteins. His work predicted that the simple molecules found in comets (such as water, ammonia, methanol and carbon dioxide) could have supplied the raw materials, and the impact with early Earth would have yielded an abundant supply of energy to drive this prebiotic chemistry.
In the new work, collaborators from Imperial College in London and University of Kent conducted a series of experiments very similar to Goldman’s previous simulations in which a projectile was fired using a light gas gun into a typical cometary ice mixture. The result: Several different types of amino acids formed.
“These results confirm our earlier predictions of impact synthesis of prebiotic material, where the impact itself can yield life-building compounds,” Goldman said. “Our work provides a realistic additional synthetic production pathway for the components of proteins in our solar system, expanding the inventory of locations where life could potentially originate.”
Comets are known to harbor simple ices and the organic precursors of amino acids. Glycine – the simplest amino acid – was recently confirmed to be present in comet Wild-2.
Goldman’s original work used molecular dynamics simulations to show that shock waves due to planetary impact passing into representative comet mixtures could theoretically drive amino acid synthesis. This synthetic mechanism could yield a wide variety of prebiotic molecules at realistic impact conditions, independent of the external features or pre-existing chemical environment on a planet.
“These results present a significant step forward in our understanding of the origin of the building blocks of life,” Goldman said.
The team found that icy bodies with the same compounds created from comet impacts also may be found in the outer solar system. For example, Encleadus (one of Saturn’s moons) contains a mix of light organics and water ice. The team concluded that it is highly probable that the impact of a comet traveling with a high enough velocity would impart enough energy to promote shock synthesis of more complex organic compounds, including amino acids, from these ices.
“This increases the chances of life originating and being widespread throughout our solar system,” Goldman said.