This red rain sample from 2001 contains a thick suspension of cells that lack DNA and may originate from cometary fragments. (Godfrey Louis/CUSAT)
A rare shower of red rain fell for about 15 minutes in the city of Kannur, Kerala, India, early on June 28. Local residents were perturbed, but this is not the first time the state has experienced colored rain.
This strange phenomenon was first recorded in Kerala a few hours after a meteor airburst in July 2001, when a space rock exploded in the atmosphere. More than 120 such rain showers were reported that year, including yellow, green, and black ones.
strobiologist Godfrey Louis, pro vice-chancellor at nearby Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), has studied samples of red rainwater in 2001 and discovered strange properties, including autofluorescence—light that is naturally emitted by cell structures like mitochondria.
Scientific analysis showed the striking red coloration is due to microscopic particles resembling biological cells, possibly originating from comet fragments.
Louis believes these cells could be extra-terrestrial because existing theories already hypothesize that comets may have a hot water core with chemical nutrients able to support microbial growth.