Wondering…why I am talking about this 2003 movie now!?

That’s because our Indian researchers have discovered three alien micro organisms!

Our Indian scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have discovered three new species of bacteria in the upper stratosphere. Stratosphere is a layer of Earth’s atmosphere and it is layered in temperature because it is heated from above by absorption of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Three new species of bacteria found are highly resistant to ultraviolet radiation and these species are not found anywhere on the earth! This leads to doubts that if these species are of extra terrestrial origin! These three species have been named as Janibacter hoylei, Bacillus isronensis and Bacillus aryabhata. A 26.7 million cubic feet balloon carrying a 459 kg scientific payload soaked in 38 kg of liquid neon was flown by researchers from the National Balloon Facility in Hyderabad, operated by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The payload consisted of a cryosampler (also called as cryogenic sampler) containing 16 evacuated and sterilized stainless steel probes.

Generally, a cryogenically cooled adsorber is used in such a system for maintaining the vacuum. Stratospheric air was collected using this balloon-borne cryogenic sampler. And, the probes were telecommand opened/closed at pre- determined altitudes. Throughout the flight, the probes remained immersed in liquid neon to create a cryopump effect. And, for those who are wondering what is this cryopump…well, it is nothing but a vacuum pump, which is able to trap gases and vapors by condensing them on a cold surface. The cylinders used for collecting air samples from different heights ranging from 20 km to 41 km, were later parachuted down and safely retrieved by researchers.

They detected 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies, nine of which showed greater than 98 percent similarity with known species on our Earth. However, three bacterial colonies were totally new species! This experiment does not assure the extra-terrestrial origin of these three species but certainly provides an immense encouragement for those who are highly interested in exploring the origin of life!

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