are revisiting the Red Rain phenomena. First it is the only specific
phenom that does conform to the Panspermia hypothesis although one
may presume an earlier report inspired the original hypothesis since
the color red was associated with the idea.
report informs us that integrity is retained up to 300 C. This
excludes any Earth borne explanation unless it so happens that a
slime mold gets up there and is cooked off. That does not work
either because integrity at 300 C is difficult to achieve with carbon
now begs the question of why here unless it is simply unique. Then
it is a case of simple luck.
happened is that a meteorite burst took place in the Stratosphere and
resultant material then descended onto Southern India as it was
washed out of the lower atmosphere with rain over a period of several
weeks. This is no longer controversial.
conjecture that these cells are living travel cells that expel their
contents on contact with water. Thus we get the yellow rain. We
also see reports of what appear to be micro cells. In the meantime
all components demonstrate auto-luminescence.
this is is an outright demonstration of the transmittal of complex
organic material through space.
time around, I suggest that we get up there and sample the material
before it drifts down into the atmosphere. If this proves feasible
then we should gain a lot of critical data.
would love to know just what the cell walls are.
A rare shower of red
rain fell for about 15 minutes in the city of Kannur, Kerala, India,
early on June 28. Local residents were perturbed, but this is not the
first time the state has experienced colored rain.
phenomenon was first recorded in Kerala a few hours after a meteor
airburst in July 2001, when a space rock exploded in the atmosphere.
More than 120 such rain showers were reported that year, including
yellow, green, and black ones. [
it took a lot of time to leach out of the upper atmosphere were air
flow is possibly no issue. This part of India just happened to be in
the landing envelope - arclein ]
Astrobiologist Godfrey Louis, pro vice-chancellor at nearby Cochin
University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), has studied samples of
red rainwater in 2001 and discovered strange properties, including
autofluorescence—light that is naturally emitted by cell
structures like mitochondria.
showed the striking red coloration is due to microscopic particles
resembling biological cells, possibly originating from comet
Louis believes these
cells could be extra-terrestrial because existing theories already
“Such comets can
break into fragments as they near the sun during their travel along
highly elliptical orbits,” he told The Epoch Times via email.
“These fragments can remain in orbit and later can enter Earth’s
According to Louis,
red particles in the atmosphere from a fragmented meteor probably
seeded the red rain clouds.
A red cell as seen with transmission
electron microscopy. (Godfrey Louis/CUSAT)
“There can be
roughly of the order of 100 million cells in one liter of red rain
water,” he said. “The red rain can appear like black coffee if
the concentration of the cells increases in the rain water.”
cells resemble normal cells, but lack conventional biological
molecules like DNA, and are expected to have different biochemistry.
biological cells, these red rain microbes can withstand very high
temperatures,” Louis explained. ”It is possible to culture
them at temperatures as high as 300 degrees centigrade [572 degrees
[ These are then surely not earth based but may be stratosphere based
Even the toughest
known heat-loving bacteria on Earth cannot withstand the same hot
conditions as the red cells.
conventional hyper-thermophilic microbes do not survive culturing
beyond 122 degrees centigrade [252 degrees Fahrenheit].”
Louis has also studied
yellow rain, and says it contains some unknown dissolved materials
but no red cells.
“Yellow rain and red
rain are related as both show an unusual characteristic:
autofluorescence,” he said. “It is inferred that the
materials dissolved in the yellow rain are the biological byproducts
of these micro-organisms.”
attempting to identify the molecular components in the red cells and
to provide more insights into colored rain.
Read Louis’ research
paper on the red rains in 2001 here.
explains the red rain of Kerala
Godfrey Louis & A.
School of Pure and
Applied Physics, Mahatma Gandhi University,
Kottayam – 686560,
Date: October 5, 2003
Red coloured rain
occurred in many places of Kerala in India during July to September
2001 due to the mixing of huge quantity of microscopic red cells in
the rainwater. Considering its correlation with a meteor airbust
event, this phenomenon raised an extraordinary question whether the
cells are extraterrestrial. Here we show how the observed features
of the red rain phenomenon can be explained by considering the
fragmentation and atmospheric disintegration of a fragile cometary
body that presumably contains a dense collection of red cells. Slow
settling of cells in the stratosphere explains the continuation of
the phenomenon for two months. The red cells under study appear to be
the resting spores of an extremophilic microorganism. Possible
presence of these cells in the interstellar clouds is speculated from
its similarity in UV absorption with the 217.5 nm UV extinction
feature of interstellar clouds. Keywords: astrobiology, exobiology,
panspermia, extraterrestrial life & red rain.
Panspermia, the theory
that the seeds of life are every where in the Universe has been
gaining more support recently on the basis of several new findings.
Modern version of panspermia considers comets as the delivery
vehicles that spread life throughout a galaxy .
. Comets can protect
cells from UV and cosmic radiation damage and cometscan drop cells
high in the atmosphere to float gently down
evidence show that life appeared on Earth as early as 3,800 million
years ago or even before that, immediately following the Earths
surface cooling. This gives too short a time for the evolution of
life to take place from simple precursor molecules to the level of
prokaryotic and photoautotropic cells and it leads to the argument
that life has earlier originated elsewhere and then it was
transported to primitive Earth
. There is evidence
to show that microbial life can remain in a resting phase for
millions of years, which can enable them to make long space travel
. There is also the
possibility of liquid water in comets, which could support active
life in comets
. Some of the
observational data from comets have also been interpreted as evidence
to prove biological content in2 Cometary panspermia explains the red
rain of Kerala comets
. In the extreme
conditions in comets, if not in active state, life can be expected to
be present as spores. Spores in the dormant state, undergo no
detectable metabolism and exhibit a high degree of resistance to
inactivation by various physical insults
. Thus the most
possible means by which microorganisms can arrive in a planet after a
journey in space must be as spores. Considering the universal nature
of biochemistry, the chemical makeup of extraterrestrial life forms
can be expected to be similar to the one found on Earth.
Recently there have
been a few claims of finding extraterrestrial life. McKey et al.
have found structures similar to microfossils of nanobacteria in a
Martian meteorite, which was interpreted as evidence for life in
Mars. To test the idea of cometary panspermia, Narliker et al. have
performed a stratospheric sample collection experiment using a
balloon and found microorganisms in the air samples collected over
Hyderabad in India at various heights up to 41 km. Wickramasinghe et
al., argue that these microorganisms are of extraterrestrial origin
and consider this finding as evidence to vindicate the idea of
In this paper we open
a new finding in support of cometary panspermia. A study of the red
rain phenomenon show that the microscopic cells that coloured the
rainwater originated most possibly from a cometary meteor that
disintegrated in the upper atmosphere above Kerala on 25th
July 2001. A physical study of the cells indicate that the cells
are spores of an extremophilic microorganism and hence we argue that
the red rain phenomenon of Kerala is a case of cometary panspermia
and the red cells are the first clear example of life beyond Earth.
Though this claim is extraordinary, there appears no other less
extraordinary way to explain the mystery of red rain in Kerala.
The red rain
The mysterious red
rain phenomenon occurred over different parts of Kerala, a State in
India. The news reports of this phenomenon appeared in Nature and
various newspapers and other media and are currently carried by
several websites . The red coloured rain first occurred at
Changanacherry in Kottayam district on 25th July 2001 and
continued to occur with diminishing frequency in Kottayam and other
places in Kerala for about two months. The red colouring of the
rainwater was found to be
entirely due to the p
resence of tiny red cells about 10 micrometers in size, which
appeared dispersed in rainwater. These cells had some similarity in
appearance with alga cells. From the magnitude of the phenomenon, it
can be estimated that several thousands of kilograms of these cells
are required to be there in the atmosphere to [Godfrey Louis & A.
Santhosh Kumar] account for all the red rain. From where the huge
quantities of these cells originate and how they reach the rain
clouds to cause red rain for two months is found to be a mystery. In
majority of cases the colour of the rain was red. There were a few
cases of yellow rain and rare unconfirmed cases of other colours like
black, green, grey etc.
were another reported case. It is easy and non-controversial to
dismiss this phenomenon without much study by stating some
conventional, simple and unproved reasons like: dust from Sahara,
pollen grains, volcanic dust from distant volcanoes, fungal spores
from trees, algae from sea and factory pollution etc. But a closer
examination of the features of this phenomenon and the properties of
the cells show that these kinds of reasons are not valid.
A study of the
distribution of the red rain incidences with location and time was
done using the data available on this phenomenon. This data was
mostly compiled from the reports that appeared in local leading
Malayalam language newspapers, which have an extensive network of
reporters covering all parts of Kerala. In many cases photographs of
the collected rainwater were given with the news item. Being an
unusual phenomenon the local press have given much importance to
this. Still there can be
several cases where
people have not reported the incidence to the press. Also there can
be several cases, which went unobserved by the people, such as the
cases, which occurred during night. But the available data is
sufficient to show the trend and nature of the phenomenon (See
supplementary information for a list of red rain incidences with time
A plot (Fig.1a) of the
number of coloured rain incidences in Kerala on different dates shows
that about 75% of the total 124 listed cases occurred during the
first 10 days. A plot (Fig.1b) of the average rainfall data of
Kerala enclosing the coloured rain period from 25th July to 23rd
demonstrates that the coloured rain started suddenly during a period
of rainfall in the State. Thus the cells are not something which
accumulated in the atmosphere during a dry period and washed down on
a first rain. It was found that several cases of red rain phenomenon
have occurred on rainy days after and during normal rains. Thus it
cannot be again assumed that the red cells came from some
accumulation in the lower atmosphere. The vessels kept in open space
also collected red rain. Thus it is not something that is washed out
from rooftops or tree leaves. It appears as if the rain clouds in
some region are suddenly mixed with red cells.
It may be argued that
the cells arrived here, from a distant source like a desert in
another part of the world, through some wind system. But in such a
system it is hard to explain the repeated delivery of these cells to
target over a few districts in Kerala for two months while not over
other adjacent States in India, despite the changes in climatic
conditions and wind pattern spanning over two months.
When the red rain
reports are viewed in the background of the normal rainfall data the
pattern that emerges is that of a sudden starting of red rain reports
after 25th July 2001 and then a gradual decay of reports
with time. A gap in the red rain reports is due to the absence of
rainfall in the State during that period. If cell clouds are created
in the stratosphere at various heights by a mechanism of meteor
fragmentation and disintegration then clouds of such cells can slowly
settle down to the rain clouds to give such a pattern of red rain.
This idea is elaborated with some actual calculations in the
distribution of the red rain cases (Fig.1c.) shows a clustering of
cases in Kottayam and neighbouring districts like Pathanamthitta,
Ernakulam, Idukki and Alappuzha with abrupt decrease towards the
south and gradual decrease towards the north. This distribution over
the geographical area can be explained by considering the path and
the location of final airbust of the meteor. This idea is also
elaborated in the following section.