ISRO finds unknown bacteria species in stratosphere
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has claimed to have discovered three unknown species of bacteria from 40 kilometres above the Earth surface that is known as stratosphere.
These bacteria were highly resistant to ultraviolet rays while the terrestrial microorganisms could not sustain on such height nor have as powerful resistance to ultraviolet rays, said ISRO in the release.
This new research can be very helpful for the scientists in analyzing the ‘origin of life’ theory, as it can be a new direction in the study, said ISRO.
In an effort to explore the theory of ‘origin of life’, scientists conducted their second experiment in which a 459 kg of scientific payload consisted of a cryosampler containing 16 hollow and sterilised stainless steel probes, soaked in 38 kg of liquid Neon, was thrown using a 26.7 million cubic feet balloon from National Balloon Facility, Hyderabad, operated by the scientists of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai.
The first such operation was conducted in 2001 and scientists had found positive and progressive results while this time, scientist took extra caution to refine their research and to avoid any terrestrial contamination, ISRO informed.
After reaching at extra-terrestrial region, the steel cylinders began to collect air samples from different heights ranging from 20 km to 41 km. For extra precaution, throughout the flight the probes remained immersed in liquid Neon to trap gases and vapours from the stratosphere. Later the probe was parachuted down and safely retrieved.
The scientists detected 12 colonies of microbes in which three colonies were unidentified. The samples were analysed by scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and the National Centre for Cell Sciences (NCCS), Pune, where they have detected 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies in which three bacterial colonies were completely new species and highly resistant to ultraviolet radiation.
All the three bacteria have got named: one ‘Bacillus Isronensis’ recognising ISRO's contribution in the experiment, second ‘Bacillus Aryabhata’ after India's ancient astronomer Aryabhata and third is called ‘Janibacter Hoylei’ on the name of famous astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.
Eminent Astrophysicists Prof Jayant Narlikar from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune was the principal investigator and scientists U R Rao from ISRO and P M Bhargava from Anveshna supported as mentors of the experiment.
Moreover, S Shivaji (CCMB) and Yogesh Shouche from NCCS were biology experts, Ravi Manchanda from TIFR was in charge of the balloon facility and CBS Dutt, Project Director from ISRO, was in-charge of preparing and operating the complex payload.
The joint efforts of Indian scientists have encouraged the science world to go for more research as ISRO said in the release, “While the present study does not conclusively establish the extra-terrestrial origin of micro-organisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in our quest to explore the origin of life."
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