Mar 18, 2009

Life Overruns the Earth

There is so much life on the planet Earth that it is nearly impossible to find an area which does not contain some form of living organism. From the deepest, sun-less caves to the coldest deep-freeze on the planet, organisms and microorganisms abound! Life will spread to any and all available ecosystems, no matter how harsh or seemingly inhospitable.
Now, you may think that humans have exhausted the places we can look for such life, but we have definitely not.

Indian scientists have discovered three new species of bacteria in Earth's upper stratosphere that are resistant to ultraviolet radiation, researchers said. - ( Harmeet Shah Singh - CNN )

Is that a mind-fuck or what? A brand-new (to science) bacteria, a whole new species, never-before seen or studied by man, found by sending. . .

. . . a balloon into the stratosphere, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said in a statement Monday. That layer of the Earth receives heavy doses of ultraviolet radiation, enough to kill most organisms. In their analyses of the retrieved samples, microbiologists detected 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies.
Of them, three bacterial colonies were new species, the ISRO said.
One of the new species has been named as Janibacter hoylei, after the distinguished astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, the second as Bacillus isronensis recognising the contribution of ISRO in the balloon experiments which led to its discovery and the third as Bacillus aryabhata after India’s celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and also the first satellite of ISRO.
"While the present study does not conclusively establish the extraterrestrial origin of microorganisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in our quest to explore the origin of life," the ISRO said.

This is amazing. an entire bacterial ecosystem, hovering in the upper reaches of our atmosphere, living and dying without ever so much as touching the surface of our planet Earth. Our planet is infected with LIFE! Below is an image of the research balloon used.

The experiment was conducted using a 26.7 million cubic feet balloon carrying a 459 kg scientific payload soaked in 38 kg of liquid neon, which was flown from the National Balloon Facility in Hyderabad, operated by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). The payload consisted of a cryosampler containing sixteen evacuated and sterilised stainless steel probes.
Throughout the flight, the probes remained immersed in liquid Neon to create a cryopump effect. These cylinders, after collecting air samples from different heights ranging from 20 km to 41 km, were parachuted down and safely retrieved. These samples were analysed by scientists at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad as well as the National Center for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune for independent examination, ensuring that both laboratories followed similar protocols to achieve homogeneity of procedure and interpretation. ( Science Daily )

While people postulate that life must be plentiful and widespread throughout the galaxy and Multi-verse, one must remember that it is also just as likely that our planet is the only place in the cosmos that breeds life. Until we find evidence otherwise, this is a proper assumption, and should make humanity think twice before continuing on our self-destructive ways.

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