On returning to Earth, Wainwright's team (including scientists from Buckingham University) analyzed what was stuck to the sampling apparatus. What they discovered was, according to Wainwright, "revolutionary."
In a series of papers published in the Journal of Cosmology (yes, the Journal of Cosmology. Alarm bells ringing much?), details of these high-altitude "diatoms" are discussed.
Diatoms are basic forms of algae when found on Earth, but should these basic forms of biology be found hitching a ride on, say, a meteorite, it could signify that life exists beyond Earth and the hypothetical mechanism of panspermia is real. Earlier this year, another group of researchers published their findings (of course, in the Journal of Cosmology) of diatoms hitching a ride inside a freshly fallen meteorite. But, like the atmospheric diatoms described in this research, these meteoric diatoms lacked any skeptical thought.
ANALYSIS: Space Algae Invasion? Probably Not
However, as Wainwright rightfully says, should diatoms be found to come from outer space, the discovery would "completely change our view of biology and evolution." And the team of researchers think they have discovered something quite profound.