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Proceedings Paper

Detection of living cells in stratospheric samples
Author(s): Melanie J. Harris; Nalin Chandra Wickramasinghe; David Lloyd; J. V. Narlikar; P. Rajaratnam; Michael P. Turner; Shirwan Al-Mufti; Max K. Wallis; S. Ramadurai; Fred Hoyle
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Paper Abstract

Air samples collected aseptically over tropical India at various stratospheric altitudes ranging from 20 to 41 km using cryosampler assemblies carried on balloons flown from Hyderabad have shown evidence of living microbial cells. Unambiguous evidence of living cells came from examining micropore filters on which the samples were recovered with the use of voltage sensitive lipophilic dyes that could detect the presents of active cells. Clumps of viable cells were found at all altitudes using this technique, and this conclusion was found to be consistent with images obtained from electron microscopy. Since the 41 km sample was collected well above the local tropopause, a prima facie case for a space incidence of these microorganisms is established. Further work on culturing, PCR analysis and isotopic analysis is in progress.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 February 2002
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 4495, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV, (5 February 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.454758
Show Author Affiliations
Melanie J. Harris, Univ. of Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)
Nalin Chandra Wickramasinghe, Univ. of Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)
David Lloyd, Univ. of Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)
J. V. Narlikar, Inter-Univ. Ctr. for Astronomy and Astrophysics (India)
P. Rajaratnam, Indian Space Research Organization (India)
Michael P. Turner, Univ. of Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)
Shirwan Al-Mufti, Univ. of Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)
Max K. Wallis, Univ. fo Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)
S. Ramadurai, Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (India)
Fred Hoyle, Univ. of Wales Cardiff (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4495:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Roland R. Paepe; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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