Claims by a Russian cosmonaut that 'alien' bacteria was recovered from the outside of the International Space Station are being called into question by scientists.
Anton Shkaplerov made news earlier this week when he told the Russian news agency TASS that samples obtained from the exterior surface of the ISS revealed something truly startling.
"It turns out that somehow these swabs reveal bacteria that were absent during the launch of the ISS module," he marveled, "that is, they have come from outer space."
Shkaplerov went on to assure the reporter that the 'alien' material posed no danger to Earth and was being studied by Russian scientists.
This revelation caught the attention of imaginative minds who were quick to declare the cosmonaut's quote as an indication that alien life, at long last, may have been found.
However, now that the proverbial space dust has begun to settle, skeptical scientists have stepped forward to say 'not so fast.'
They argue that Shkaplerov could be leaping to an alien conclusion about the bacteria when it's more likely to have actually originated on our planet
Their reasoning is that the relatively close proximity of the ISS to the Earth, where we know such organisms exist, as opposed to other worlds in space, where such life has yet to be found, makes our planet the most plausible source for the mysterious microbes.
As to how such material would make its way to the outside of the space station, the prevailing theory is that it was transferred from nearby satellites with an assist from bacteria's ability to survive in harsh conditions such as space.
And, finally, the dearth of details about the purported discovery as well as the inability of anyone aside from Russian scientists to actually study this bacteria is an indication to many scientists that it is probably not some kind of alien life.
Although that may be disappointing to some UFO enthusiasts, they may be able to take solace in the fact that the first ET discovered did not turn out to be something as boring as bacteria stuck on the ISS' windows.
Source: Popular Science