Case study 6 – Professor Milton Wainwright & Scientific Discovery

Here at we’re scientists at heart and like to consider ourselves on the forefront of exploration. We have a continuing collaboration with prominent astrobiologist Professor Milton Wainwright at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Our work looks for evidence of life in the stratosphere and we use our launch expertise to sample particles from well over the 19km high Armstrong line that marks the boundary of near space. We then use our teams engineering background to study the particles captured under a powerful electron microscope to determine their characteristics.

In short, the larger a particle the lower the probability that it was lofted by natural mechanisms into the stratosphere (you wouldn’t expect to see a golf ball lifted to 20+km by the wind for instance!) making it more likely that the particles originated in space. There is currently no known mechanism which would launch particles over a certain size and weight into the stratosphere and it is these particles which are of significance. If one such ‘heavy’ particle is shown to also be organic (life based) then it adds weight to the hypothesis that life is seeded to the Earth from outside of the planet.

The particles found on numerous occasions are large enough to suggest that they originate from outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and examples of organic (life based) ‘heavy’ particles have also been found.


Following the journal paper published here it was picked up by various media establishments:

After a shot time we were contacted to demonstrate the process for the Discovery Science show Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. The clip can be watched here:

The findings have even been the subject of artworks from tattoos (yes, tattoos) to canvas paintings.

Our work with Professor Wainwright continues and we look forward to whatever results may come in the future.