Panspermia - Are Red Rain Spores Life From Outer Space?
An unusual rain fell in the Southern State of Kerala in India, a few years ago. The water that remained in catchments and vessels was not clear but red, sometimes yellow. Samples were collected and examined microscopically. Godfrey Louis and Santosh Kumar report in a paper to be published in Astrophysics and Space Science that the red particles suspended in the rain water seem to be of biological origin, having a fine cell structure. However they did not find any trace of DNA, thought to be one of the indispensable basic building blocks for living organisms.
The authors believe that what was found in Kerala is an example of Panspermia or Exogenesis. Panspermia is a theory that suggests biological life forms did not necessarily originate on earth, growing out of a "primordial soup" but are present throughout the universe and some of them are constantly "seeding" young planets with the ingredients needed for more advanced life forms to develop.
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It appears that the spores can survive the cold of space and are resistant to heat as well. The two scientists cultured the spores in a number of different media and at different temperatures and found their optimal temperature for propagation to be about 300°C. This is three times the highest temperature resistance that has been found in organisms growing in volcanic underwater hydrothermal vents.
An earlier paper, submitted in December 2003 but not accepted for publication, details the experiments performed and the - admittedly speculative - conviction of the authors that the spores are of extraterrestrial origin and may be present in great quantities in interstellar dust clouds is titled New Biology of red rain extremophiles prove cometary panspermia.
Popular Science: Is It Raining Aliens?
Nearly 50 tons of mysterious red particles showered India in 2001. Now the race is on to figure out what the heck they are ...
Searching for 'our alien origins'
Last summer, Horizon had exclusive access to a trip taken by Professor Wickramasinghe to India to investigate at first hand the red rain phenomenon. He met Dr Louis and together they visited the people who had witnessed the red rain. He was able to see the recent work of Dr Louis which shows that the red rain can replicate at 300C, an essential attribute of a space micro-organism that might have to endure extreme temperatures. All this has convinced Professor Wickramasinghe that the red rain is a form of alien life.
Claim of alien cells in rain may fit historical accounts: study
A controversial theory, that strange red rains in India six years ago might have contained microbes from outer space, hasn't died. In fact, things might be getting even weirder. A new study suggests the claimed connection between scarlet rain and tiny celestial visitors may be consistent with historical accounts linking colored rain to meteor passings. These would seem to echo the India case, in which organisms are proposed to have fallen out of a breaking meteor.