, Volume 285, Issue 2, pp 555-562

A Balloon Experiment to detect Microorganisms in the Outer Space

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The results of biological studies of a cryosampler flown with a balloon, in which air samples were collected at altitudes ranging from 20 to 41 km, well above the Tropopause over Hyderabad, are described. In the analysis carried out in Cardiff, voltage-sensitive dyes that could detect the presence of viable cells were used on these air-samples. Clumps of viable cells were found to be present in samples collected at all the altitudes. The images obtained from electron microscopy are consistent with the above finding. Reference is also made to another paper presented at this conference describing the identification of bacterial species in the sample carried out in Sheffield. Counter arguments are discussed against the criticism that the detected cells and microorganisms (in the samples collected above the local tropopause at 16 km) are due to terrestrial contamination.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.