This is the first hint that I have ever seen that alien bacteria might be infiltrating the atmosphere. It has been suggested but no one has ever actually claimed to have a prospective culture.
The immediate inference is that life is in fact universal throughout space and that we can expect conforming life forms throughout the universe. It may be possible to travel to a distant planet in another solar system and to expect to eat well.
The real inference is that any planet with the right stuff will immediately be invaded by life forms and evolution will commence. We do not need to reconstruct life from first principles each and every time.
This is the first such claim and it will be interesting to watch and to see what sort of consensus emerges. It is still to early to be optimistic.
New bacteria discovered in stratosphere
by Staff Writers
Hyderabad, India (UPI) Mar 17, 2009
Scientists in India say they've found three species of bacteria in the stratosphere, all of which are alien to Earth and resistant to ultraviolet radiation.
One of the species has been named Janibacter hoylei, after the late astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. The others are named Bacillus isronensis, recognizing the contribution of the Indian Space Research Organization in the balloon experiments that led to its discovery, and Bacillus aryabhata after India's ancient astronomer Aryabhata and also the first ISRO satellite.
The experiment was conducted using a 26.7-million-cubic-foot balloon flown from the National Balloon Facility in Hyderabad, India. The payload consisted of a cryosampler containing 16 evacuated and sterilized stainless steel probes that were immersed in liquid neon to create a cryopump effect. The cylinders, after collecting air samples from different heights, were parachuted to Earth and retrieved.
In all, 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies were detected, nine of which showed greater than 98 percent similarity with known species on Earth, the researchers said. Three bacterial colonies were deemed new species.
Although the study doesn't conclusively establish an extraterrestrial origin of the microorganisms, it does provide encouragement to continue the work in the quest to explore the origin of life, the scientists said.