Life in Space?

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As of this summer, a finding by Russian scientists has added a new layer to millennia of speculation about the possibility of life in space. The scientists in question have discovered traces of marine plankton on the exterior of the International Space Station.

According to Vladimir Solovyev, the chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission, plankton of the type discovered by the Russian scientists is usually found on the surface of the ocean; how exactly it got to the ISS is unknown and has become a major topic of debate within the scientific community. It seems most likely that its presence on the ISS is the result of contamination from spacecraft arriving at the space station or discharges from within the station itself, although some, such as University of Buckingham professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, argue that it may well have originated in outer space.

At the moment, however, the most remarkable thing about the discovery of these organisms is the simple fact of their existence. The results of experiments performed on the plankton have, according to Solovyev, not only proven that they have been able to survive unprotected in outer space for many years, but also that they actually have the ability to grow and develop under these harsh conditions. This new knowledge, although we do not yet fully understand it, is crucial to the perennial question of the potential of life in space, with regards to both earthly and extraterrestrial organisms.

 

–Maria Juran, Staff Writer

 

 

Posted by on September 15, 2014. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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