One of my favorite websites, the Powells bookstore blog, has published How High the Biosphere?, an interesting essay by David Toomey in conjunction with the publication of his book Weird Life. Among other things Toomey says that:
Birds and a species of spider have been found near the peak of Mount Everest, nearly 9 kilometers above sea level.
In 2006, a cloud sample taken by a French meteorological station was found to be home to 71 strains of bacteria, many individuals of which came from oceans, presumably pushed into the air by a breaking wave or bursting bubble and lofted farther by wind.
Scientists have shown that a meteorite striking the Earth with sufficient force could launch rock fragments (and its passengers) as far as the orbit of Jupiter’s moon Europa, where they might have impacted the ice sheets covering that moon and sunk into the dark, salty ocean that scientists believe lies beneath them.
All of which was news to me…