The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced on Monday that three new species of bacteria had been found in the upper stratosphere. The three species of bacteria, which are not found on the earth and are highly resistant to ultraviolet radiation, have been discovered in the upper stratosphere (more than 15 km above the earth) by Indian scientists during a balloon experiment.
According to ISRO, the balloon experiment was conducted using 26.7 million cubic feet balloon carrying a 459 kg scientific payload soaked in 38 kg of liquid neon which was flown from the national balloon facility in Hyderabad, operated by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). The payload consisted of a cryosampler containing sixteen evacuated and sterilised stainless steel probes. Throughout the flight, the probes remained immersed in liquid Neon to create a cryopump effect. These cylinders, after collecting air samples from different heights ranging from 20 km to 41 km, were parachuted down and safely retrieved. These samples were analysed by scientists at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad as well as the National Center for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune for independent examination.
The three bacteria have been named Janibacter hoylei after astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who promoted the theory that life evolved in space; Bacillus isronensis that recognizes the contribution of India’s space agency in the balloon experiments that led to its discovery; and Bacillus aryabhata after India’s ancient astronomer who postulated that the earth revolves around the sun.