A paper to appear in a scientific journal claims a strange red rain might have dumped microbes from space onto Earth four years ago. But the report is meeting with a shower of skepticism from scientists who say extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof—and this one hasn’t got it.
The scientists agree on two points, though. The things look like cells, at least superficially. And no one is sure what they are. “These particles have much similarity with biological cells though they are devoid of DNA,” wrote Godfrey Louis and A. Santhosh Kumar of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, India, in the controversial paper.
The red rain phenomenon of Kerala and its possible extraterrestrial origin
Authors: Godfrey Louis, A. Santhosh Kumar (Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, India)
Comments: 18 pages, 15 figures, accepted for publication in Astrophysics and Space Science
A red rain phenomenon occurred in Kerala, India starting from 25th July 2001, in which the rainwater appeared coloured in various localized places that are spread over a few hundred kilometers in Kerala. Maximum cases were reported during the first 10 days and isolated cases were found to occur for about 2 months. The striking red colouration of the rainwater was found to be due to the suspension of microscopic red particles having the appearance of biological cells. These particles have no similarity with usual desert dust. An estimated minimum quantity of 50,000 kg of red particles has fallen from the sky through red rain. An analysis of this strange phenomenon further shows that the conventional atmospheric transport processes like dust storms etc. cannot explain this phenomenon. The electron microscopic study of the red particles shows fine cell structure indicating their biological cell like nature. EDAX analysis shows that the major elements present in these cell like particles are carbon and oxygen. Strangely, a test for DNA using Ethidium Bromide dye fluorescence technique indicates absence of DNA in these cells. In the context of a suspected link between a meteor airburst event and the red rain, the possibility for the extraterrestrial origin of these particles from cometary fragments is discussed. Link: http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0601022