“DNA can survive re-entry into the atmosphere, raising the possibility of extraterrestrial life molecules arriving on Earth from space, research has shown.
The discovery came as a total surprise to scientists”
The Daily Telegraph 27, November 2014
This was discovered by a mission launched from the European Space Centre at Esrange in Northern Sweden; the TEXUS 49 mission. A ‘total surprise’ is overcooking things. Still, events have conspired to prove / disprove the hypothesis and we have a result. Space Daily (your portal to space) is somewhat less sensational: DNA may survive suborbital spaceflight, re-entry according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Cora Thiel and Oliver Ullrich from University of Zurich and colleagues. See their article here.
The TEXUS 49 rocket mission was March 2011, nearly four years back.
The idea of outer space biological contamination has been in the SF domain for years and in one form or another, it continues to fascinate writers. James White’s Sector General series (a hospital lab in space dealing with human and non-human disease) anticipates the mechanics of managing this. James White wrote his 12 ‘Hospital in Space’ themed books between 1957 and 1999.
The very first SF book I read Invader from Space (1963) by Patrick Moore had alien microbes as a theme
In Andre Norton’s works, plague space-ships are a must-avoid. Harry Harrison did Spaceship Medic (1970) – I confess to not having read it. The opening paragraphs of The Boosted Man (1974), see Tully Zetford’s anti-hero, Ryder Hook, escape a frenzied mob, desperate to flee a planet infected with alien disease. Tully Zetford was also know as Kenneth Bulner.
At a macro level, this is what Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye (1974) deals with – an alien race that expands aggressively to fit the available space, at a high level is similar to fungus in a petri-dish, growing on a damp slice of bread. We all did that experiment in school. There are other variations on this, for example the energy forms in Peter F Hamilton’s The Reality Dysfunction.
Alien bugs coming to Earth is one of the ideas I explored in Guide (plus mutations, energy forms…)