Cape Canaveral, Florida (AP) — A 4 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars that caused splashes here on Earth decades ago, after all, contains evidence of ancient primitive Martian life. No, scientists reported Thursday.
In 1996, a NASA-led team announced that organic compounds in rocks appear to have been left behind by living things. Other scientists were skeptical, and researchers had stripped that premise for decades, most recently lacking by a team led by Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Science Center.
Small samples from meteorites show that carbon-rich compounds are actually the result of water (probably salty or salty water) flowing over rocks for extended periods of time, Steele said. The findings are published in the journal Science.
Early in the wet past of Mars, at least two impacts occurred near the rocks, heating the surface around the planet. Then, on the third impact, Mars bounced from the red planet into space millions of years ago. A four-pound (2 kilogram) rock was discovered in 1984 in Antarctica.
According to researchers, while the groundwater was still on Mars, it moved through rock crevices, forming small masses of carbon that existed. They said the same could happen on Earth and could help explain the presence of methane in Mars’ atmosphere.
However, two scientists who participated in the original study challenged these latest discoveries and called them “disappointed.” In a shared email, they said they supported the 1996 observations.
“The data presented gradually increase our knowledge of (meteorites), but the interpretation is largely new and unsupported by research,” said a space materials researcher at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Kathie Thomas-Keprta and Simon Clemett write.
“Unsupported speculations do nothing to solve the conundrum surrounding the origin of organic matter,” they added.
According to Steele, technological advances have enabled new discoveries in his team.
He praised the measurements by former researchers, stating that their life-claiming hypothesis was “a rational interpretation” at the time. He and his team (including NASA, German, and British scientists) made the original premise “a very exciting discovery about Mars, not a disproving study, but about what they are.” He said he took care to present the results.
This discovery is “very important in understanding how life began on this planet, in refining the techniques needed to find life on Mars, or elsewhere in Enceladus and Europa. It helps, “Steel said in an email, referring to satellites with Saturn and Jupiter’s underground seas. ..
According to Steele, the only way to prove if Mars had microbial life is to bring a sample to Earth for analysis. NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has already collected six samples to return to Earth in about a decade. I need 3 dozen samples.
Millions of years after drifting in space, meteorites landed on the Antarctic ice fields thousands of years ago. The small grey-green fragment was named after the hill in which it was found — Allan Hills 84001 —.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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