Aliens do exist and have been found living in the clouds above the Peak District, according to new claims by scientists.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Buckingham University claim to have found evidence for microscopic organisms living 16 miles up in the atmosphere between Chester and Wakefield.
The scientists used a specially designed balloon to gather samples in the stratosphere during the recent Perseid meteor shower.
They found the fragments of single celled algae known as a diatom.
They argue that this could be the first evidence to show how life may have arrived on Earth from space, perhaps carried here by meteorites.
It is not the first time organisms have been found in the atmosphere and indeed the skies are thought to be teeming with microscopic life.
Many scientists, however, insist these microorganisms are carried up into the atmosphere by storms and other natural processes.
Professor Milton Wainwright, from the department of molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield who led the work, said: “Most people will assume that these biological particles must have just drifted up to the stratosphere from Earth.
“But it is generally accepted that a particle of the size found cannot be lifted from Earth to heights of, for example, 27km.“The only known exception is by a violent volcanic eruption, none of which occurred within three years of the sampling trip.
“In the absence of a mechanism by which large particles like these can be transported to the stratosphere we can only conclude that the biological entities originated from space.
“Our conclusion then is that life is continually arriving to Earth from space, life is not restricted to this planet and it almost certainly did not originate here.” The findings are published in the Journal of Cosmology, a scientific journal that often publishes papers on astrobiology but is highly controversial among scientists.
The samples were taken at altitudes between 13 miles and 16 miles.
Air samples taken from the upper troposphere by an aircraft revealed 314 different types of bacteria in the air above the Atlantic Ocean and the US. However, they concluded that much of the bacteria, which accounted for 20 per cent of the particles they collected, were thrown up there by the movement of air as hurricanes formed.A team of British researchers, who are separate from the scientists in Sheffield, have this week also set off on a 2,000 mile expedition to take samples from clouds in an effort to search for signs of life.
Many of these organisms would likely fall to earth in rain drops.
Felicity Aston, the lead meteorologist on the Cloud Lab expedition and a former researcher at the British Antarctic Survey, said: “One of the holes in our knowledge about clouds is exactly how a cloud droplet grows and what makes it fall out the sky.
“It is really interesting to look not only at how life is affected by weather but how weather is affected by life – what role do these organisms play in cloud formation.”
“The tension will obviously be almost impossible to live with.”