A variety of news sources have picked up a story about an Indian Space Research Organization balloon which collected three new species of bacteria in the upper atmosphere.

A research team from ISRO conducted an earlier study which reported the discovery of life in the upper atmosphere but the scientific community expressed doubts . Oddly for a discovery like this, I haven’t seen mention of it in the science news sources I frequent, but perhaps it is still early. It will be interesting to see the reaction, if any.

Quotes and the naming of one of the new species after astronomer Fred Hoyle hint that one motivation of the mission may have been to study panspermia, the theory that life on Earth came from space. I am not a particular advocate of that theory, but the discovery of bacteria which are resistant to UV is exciting. Even if the bacteria are shown to have terrestrial origin, their existence is evidence once more of the versatility of life, which is promising in the search for extraterrestrial life.

What do you think? Would the existence of UV resistant bacteria bolster claims that life might be present elsewhere, perhaps even in this solar system?

Here is the actual press release from the ISRO.

CNN’s take

The Hindu ‘s take

The Times of India‘s take

The Hindustan Times‘ take