New evidence has been discovered that reinforces the panspermia thoery that the red rain which fell in India in 2001, contained cells unlike any found on Earth. Panspermia is the idea championed by physicist Fred Hoyle that life exists throughout the universe in comets, asteroids and interstellar dust clouds and that life of Earth was seeded from one or more of these sources.
In 1903, in the German journal Umschau, Svante Arrhenius removed the meteors from the equation. Instead, he wrote, individual spores wafted throughout space, colonizing any hospitable planet they lit on. Arrhenius named the theory panspermia.
A growing body of evidence suggests that it might be Hoyle and Arrhenius might have been correct.
For example, various insects such as have been shown to survive for months or even years in the harsh conditions of space. the Allen Hills Mars meteorite that some scientists believe holds evidence of life on Mars, is that its interior never rose above 50 degrees centigrade, despite being blasted from the Martian surface by an meteor impact and surviving a fiery a descent through Earth's opaque atmosphere.
"Spores," says Gerda Horneck, of DLR German Aerospace Center in Köln, "can withstand a variety of different hostile conditions: heat, radiation, desiccation, chemical substances, such as alcohol, acetone and others. They have an extremely long shelf life. This is because the sensitive material, the DNA, is especially packed and protected in the spores
In 2001, the inhabitants of Kerala in the sounthern India observed red rain falling during a two month period. One, Godfrey Louis, a physicist at nearby Cochin University of Science and Technology, intrigued by this phenomena, collected numerous samples of red rain to find out what was causing the contamination, perhaps sand or dust from some distant desert.
Examining the red rain under a microscopehe found that the rain water was filled with red cells that look remarkably like conventional bugs on Earth. What was strange was that Louis found no evidence of DNA in these cells which would rule out most kinds of known biological cells (red blood cells are one possibility but ought to be destroyed quickly by rain water).
Louis published his results in the peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space in 2006, along with the tentative suggestion that the cells could be extraterrestrial, perhaps from a comet that had disintegrated in the upper atmosphere and then seeded clouds as the cells floated down to Earth as well as reports in the region of a sonic boom-type noise, which could have been caused by the entry of an object in the upper atmosphere.
Since his initial discovery, Louis has intensified his study the cells with an international team including Chandra Wickramasinghe from the University of Cardiff in the UK and one of the leading proponents of the panspermia theory, which he developed in the latter half of the 20th century with the Fred Hoyle.
The team's new research show that the cells reproduce at a temperature of 121 degrees C. "Under these conditions daughter cells appear within the original mother cells and the number of cells in the samples increases with length of exposure to 121 degrees C," they report. By contrast, the cells are inert at room temperature. The spores of some extremophiles can survive these kinds of temperatures and then reproduce at lower temperatures but nothing discovered to date on Earth behaves like this at these temperatures -an extraordinary claim that will need to be independently verified before it will be more broadly accepted.
Wickramasinghe's team say they've examined the way these fluoresce when bombarded with light and say it is remarkably similar to various unexplained emission spectra seen in various parts of the galaxy. One such place is the Red Rectangle (image above), a cloud of dust and gas around a young star in the Monocerous constellation.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1008.4960: Growth And Replication Of Red Rain Cells At 121oC And Their Red FluorescenceSpace.com