Foreign bodies in upper atmosphere

Published: Saturday 15 February 2003

ALIENS are now no longer confined to our childhood fancy. Early last year, they were found floating some 41 kilometres above the Earth's surface - an area devoid of life. What's more, the aliens - a kind of fungus and two species of bacteria - are similar to commonly found soil microbes. These are the findings of a recent analysis of the organisms conducted by scientists from the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India, and the University of Sheffield in Britain, the UK.

"Although the possibility of contamination can never be ruled out when space-derived samples are studied on Earth, we are confident that the organisms originated from the stratosphere," says Milton Wainwright, one of the scientists. The finding supports a minority theory known as Panspermia, which argues that Earth was initially seeded with microorganisms hitching a ride on passing comets. Proponents argue the Earth is still receiving extraterrestrial microorganisms.

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