The photograph of the particle, shows a ghostly-white colored structure that resembles a wisp of smoke under the microscope. Sheffield University scientists claim the particle may have acted as a “balloon” which microorganisms inflated with lighter than air gases, so they could float on the atmospheres and seas of worlds. The particle was discovered in dust and particulate matter 27 kilometers above, in the Earth’s stratosphere.
Professor Milton Wainwright and his team from the University of Sheffield and the University of Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, who gathered the particle say it is biological in nature and is made of carbon and oxygen.
The structure was collected by balloons sent up by the team to gather particles from space. They claim that it is extremely unlikely that this structure blew up from Earth itself, since it is entirely free of pollen, grass, soil particles, pollution particles or volcanic dust. They believe that it is highly unlikely that a process exists in which a particle from Earth could be selectively taken so high into the Earth’s atmosphere, while being kept clear from all other kinds of earthly debris.
“This is clearly a biology entity (about 10 micron in size), although it is unclear whether it is part of a single organism or is made up of smaller, individual microbes. It is certainly unusual and seems to be like nothing found on Earth. What is amazing is that these organisms appear on the sampling stubs in an absolutely pristine condition,” said Wainwright.
This find comes just a short time after International Space Station (ISS) astronauts found tiny microscopic plankton on the station. Some bacteria and DNA are known to be able to survive the harsh conditions of space, and it is still unclear whether these plankton blew up from Earth or came from elsewhere.
“If our findings are true they will forever alter our view of life and particularly evolution on Earth and we will need to rewrite of our biology textbooks. It is an amazing discovery and the evidence is overwhelming that these organisms have originated from outer space,” said Wainwright.
Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, who also worked on the experiment said, “We are starting to find diatoms in space, mixed up in debris in the stratosphere.” Diatoms are a major group of algae, and one of the most common types of phytoplankton. “The evidence points towards theories that complex living organisms are falling from the skies to Earth,” he added.