No. 84: Nov-Dec 1992
We cautiously classify the following phenomenon as "biological," although it might well be inorganic in nature -- perhaps something akin to "whisker growth" seen in metals under some conditions.
"Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are scratching their heads over how a tiny patch of something managed to grow even though it was exposed to the harshness of outer space for nearly six years.
"The mystery growth has been found in a toothpick-sized region on what is known as the Long Duration Exposure Facility. The bussized LDEF was launched in 1984 and was retrieved by a space shuttle in January 1990, a few weeks before its decaying orbit would have sent it crashing back to earth.
"NASA scientists in Huntsville, Ala., discovered the growth while examining a brownish discoloration on a Tefloncovered section of the satellite.
"Using an electron scanning microscope, they saw tiny, stalactite-like structures on the Teflon. Tiny means the longest were about seven microns in size. That's about one-tenth the width of a human hair.
"At first NASA scientists thought the growth might be a fungus or a mold that had contaminated the LDEF upon its return. However, their tests came up negative,"
(Anonymous; "Odd Space Growth on Satellite Baffles NASA," Arkansas Demo crat-Gazelle, September 9, 1992. Cr. L. Farish)