Detecting microbiology in the upper atmosphere: relative-velocity filtered sampling

Arjun Berera, Daniel J. Brener*, Charles S. Cockell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The purpose of this article is to reopen from a practical perspective the question of the extent in altitude of Earth's biosphere. We make a number of different suggestions for how searches for biological material could be conducted in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere, colloquially referred to as the “ignore-osphere” because it has been generally ignored in the meteorological community compared to other regions. Relatively recent technological advances such as CubeSats in very low Earth orbit or more standard approaches such as the rocket-borne MAGIC meteoric smoke particle sampler are shown as potentially viable for sampling biological material in the ignore-osphere. The issue of contamination is discussed, and a potential solution to the problem is proposed by means of a new detector design that filters for particles based on their size and relative velocity to the detector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-475
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Early online date17 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Biosphere and upper atmosphere sampling
  • Mesosphere
  • Thermosphere


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