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Crowdsourced Microbes Heading to Station

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30,000 feet up, these bacteria aren't afraid of heights

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From ocean floors to office desks, bacteria coat nearly every inch of the Earth. Scientists have recently discovered bacteria are present high above the Earth, as well. Ten kilometers up, to be exact, in a region of our atmosphere known as the upper troposphere. In a place where freezing temperatures, high ozone concentrations and intense UV radiation are toxic for most life, to say nothing of the gravity issue, communities of microorganisms make a home. Furthermore, the “microbiome” of the upper troposphere may play an important role in the formation of clouds and precipitation, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

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