Blood Red Rain in India

24 Aug

This red rain sample from 2001 contains a thick suspension of cells that lack DNA and may originate from cometary fragments. (Godfrey Louis/CUSAT)

About two days ago I watched a documentary on the National Geographic Channel. It told a story of an incident that recently happened in India. In a small city during the monsoon season the residents claim to have heard a loud thunder like none they have ever heard and shortly after it began to rain. But the rain was blood red!

The scientist investigating this phenomenon have multiple theories. These theories include red spores being released from the local trees, red dust brought from the nearest desert by the wind, and a comet bringing extraterrestrial life into the atmosphere.

Of course my favorite theory is the comet considering how much I love anything extraterrestrial related. But all of the theories are very intriguing.
They found that the rain is actually clear but has particles within it that when untouched will settle to the bottom. The scientists analyzed the particles and had trouble finding DNA within them. We all know that every living thing on Earth has DNA. Eventually they were able to penetrate the cells thick covering and find DNA. The cells were very similar to the spores located on the trees in the region. This supported the tree spore theory.The next test done on the cells proved that they could not be cells from the spores. The cells found in the rain were capable of reproducing at higher temperatures than any other cell known on Earth. They are capable of cultivating at 300 degrees centigrade [572 degrees Fahrenheit]. The highest temperature known for microbes able to culture is 122 degrees centigrade [252 degrees Fahrenheit]. That is a big difference in temperature, which supports the theory of the comet. If the organisms did come from a comet entering the atmosphere they must be able to survive extremely high temperatures.

The theory of the comet also supports the occurrence of the loud “thunder”. The residents described it as being a kind of “sonic boom” loud. This could have been made by the comet breaking through the atmosphere.

All together the documentary ended with the unknown. Research is still being done to this day on what could have caused this mysterious red rain.

Watch the full episode and come up with your own theory! Very interesting stuff!
-Bibi

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