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Martian meteorite may contain evidence of extraterrestrial life

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posted on Dec, 3 2014 @ 01:26 PM
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This looks interesting.


A meteorite from Mars that landed on Earth in 2011 contains a carbon compound that is biological in origin.

NASA rover Curiosity is beavering away up on Mars, examining rocks, drilling holes, checking out the weather -- but it's not just up there to look at the planet's hospitability for humans. It's also looking for conditions favourable for life; not now, but in the past, when Mars may have been home to extraterrestrial microbes.

Tissint landed in the desert of Guelmim-Es Semara, Morocco, on July 18, 2011. It was thrown from the surface of Mars by an asteroid collision some 700,000 years ago -- and there is no other meteorite quite like it. The 7-11 kilogram grey rock -- seared glassy black on the outside by the heat of entry, called a fusion crust -- showed evidence of water. It was riddled with tiny fissures, into which water had deposited material.


They then give four reasons why this could be from Mars.


A team of researchers studied the organic carbon found in the fissures of Tissint and determined that it is not of this world.

There are several points of evidence put forward by the team. First, there was a relatively short timeframe between when the meteorite was observed falling to Earth and when it was collected.

The second is that the microscopic fissures in the rock would have had to have been produced by a sudden high heat -- such as, for example, the heat of atmospheric entry. This shock, and the temperatures required to open the fissures, could not have come from the Moroccan desert.

Thirdly, some of the carbon grains inside Tissint had hardened into diamond. There are no known conditions under which this could have occurred on the surface of the Moroccan desert -- and certainly not in the time it took between the meteorite's fall and discovery.

Fourthly, the carbon contains a high amount of deuterium, heavy hydrogen with one proton and one neutron in its nucleus -- consistent with the composition of Mars geology. "Such an enormous concentration of deuterium is the typical 'finger print' of Martian rocks as we know already from previous measurements," study co-author Professor Ahmed El Goresy of the University of Bayreuth, Germany, said.


www.cnet.com...=YHF65cbda0

I personally think there's microbial life all over the place because of Panspermia. We may also find out that intelligent life also happened in our solar system in the past.

Here's a video of Philippe Gillet, co-author of the article.


edit on 3-12-2014 by neoholographic because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 3 2014 @ 01:58 PM
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a reply to: neoholographic

I agree with you to a certain extent , Panspermia.

although even if they do find evidence on a rock proven from Mars , Scientists will say it came from Earth , as we trade rocks all the time , and as awesome a discovery as this would be , we need to find the evidence located outside of our direct Neighbor to truly prove the origin of the microbes

Q



posted on Dec, 3 2014 @ 05:43 PM
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a reply to: Quantum_Squirrel

I would guess that the asteroid belt might be a good place to send collecting probes to retrieve samples from.

Isn't the asteroid belt the remains of at least 1 planet?



posted on Dec, 3 2014 @ 05:53 PM
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Is this a new announcement or an older one? Jim Oberg had a very good thread up several months ago about an analysis of possible lifeform traces in a Martian meteorite, and there have been other announcements from the 1990s on up. If this is a new analysis it just adds to a building data pile. Thanks OP!



posted on Dec, 3 2014 @ 09:11 PM
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This was a new find. It landed on Earth in 2011, in China. They recovered it pretty quickly, so Terrestrial contamination can mostly be excluded.

Of course their is an alternative explanation proposed by the scientists:


"It could be possible that the organic carbon originated from impacts of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. However, it is not easy to conceive by which processes chondritic carbon could have been selectively extracted from the impacting carbonaceous chondrites, selectively removed from the soil and later impregnated in the extremely fine rock veins."

Martian meteorite may contain evidence of extraterrestrial life.

The simplest, most straightforward, answer is that this carbon is from a lifeform that existed on mars in the planet's distant past.

The most convoluted theoretical argument calls for planetary bombardment of meteorites, migration of carbon in those meteorites into the dirt, that specific carbon making its way into a rock, that piece of rock gets hit by an asteroid crashing into the planet and the meteor landing on Earth.

Of course, this discovery must be peer reviewed in the Main Stream Media (MSM) in order to come to the proper "scientific" consensus. [/joke]

Which answer do you think they'll come to?



dex



posted on Dec, 3 2014 @ 09:51 PM
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a reply to: DexterRiley

Extremely good post, thanks. So we have life possibly being discovered in this meteorite, and the meteorite from Jim Oberg's thread (which I haven't read in a long time, so I don't know if my next words are outdated) which seems like another high-possibility fossil-containing meteorite, then the one from the 1990s which NASA got on board with for awhile...in a short period of time, maybe 20 years, there exists a body of evidence which indicates, but does not prove, that life once existed on Mars.

Proof on this one, if it comes at all or has come already and awaits people to put it all together, will emerge from a variety of technologies.
edit on 3-12-2014 by Aleister because: (no reason given)

edit on 3-12-2014 by Aleister because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2014 @ 02:11 AM
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a reply to: neoholographic

the rock came from Mars. There is no debate there. The biological evidence is new, and previous findings have found no biological origin necessary. This new evidence does not claim that is wrong, they simply say a biological explanation is more likely.

It's an interesting theory, nothing more at the moment.



posted on Dec, 5 2014 @ 02:13 AM
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a reply to: DexterRiley

There are other explanations.
www.hou.usra.edu...
www.lpi.usra.edu...
edit on 5-12-2014 by OccamsRazor04 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2014 @ 12:33 PM
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Morphology alone does not and can not establish life. People who keep going back to "well this looks like" regardless of scientific acclaim are only going to be disappointed. A LOT more would have to be found in that meteorite to establish the claim of extant life on Mars.



posted on Dec, 5 2014 @ 11:36 PM
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a reply to: OccamsRazor04
a reply to: JadeStar

I wrote up a summary of how this research differs from, and builds upon, the research from 2012.

In the latest paper, the researchers concentrated on a couple of fissures in the rock, and the organic compounds located therein. Using an adhesive-free mounting technique they were able to more selectively analyze the different types of organic compounds. The chemical composition of the compounds located in the fissures was more indicative of a kerogen-like organic rather than the graphitic composition speculated in the earlier research.

Rather than relying on sample morphology, petrography was used to provide context for localized analyses of individualized sections of the meteorite sample.


dex



posted on Dec, 5 2014 @ 11:39 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar



Morphology alone does not and can not establish life. People who keep going back to "well this looks like" regardless of scientific acclaim are only going to be disappointed. A LOT more would have to be found in that meteorite to establish the claim of extant life on Mars.


What level of evidence would be necessary to establish the claim of past life on Mars?


dex



posted on Dec, 6 2014 @ 12:40 AM
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a reply to: DexterRiley

It basically comes down to .. it looks similar to coal, which on life usually has an origin of life, so this must too.

That is pretty crappy science. Saying it looks similar to coal, which on Earth comes from life, so this may have as well would be fine. Extrapolating something that happens on Earth and saying this is the only way it occurs anywhere in the Universe is ridiculously stupid.



posted on Dec, 6 2014 @ 12:46 AM
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a reply to: DexterRiley


What level of evidence would be necessary to establish the claim of past life on Mars?

The same we use to establish past life on earth? Like fossils of living things I suppose.



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 07:14 AM
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a reply to: OccamsRazor04

The comparison of this particular organic compound, located within the fractures of Tissint, is more similar to coal than graphite.

A theory put forth in 2012 by Andrew Steele, et. al, indicated that all organic compounds found in Mars meteorites could be explained by geologic processes. Organic compounds produced by such igneous processes would yield a signature more indicative of graphite.

This most recent analysis performed on Tissint compares the signature of the organics to both graphite and coal. The result was that there was a close match to Terrestrial coal, and no match to graphite. At the least it provides evidence countering the theory that organic compounds found in Mars meteorites can be exclusively attributed to igneous processes.

Given the Terrestrial model on which these scientists must rely, because we have no other model of extant life, the indication is that this organic material was likely created by biotic processes.

The researchers hypothesized that this organic material was biotic in nature. However, they proposed a couple of other possible options. They then went on to show that the probability of occurrence for those other theories was slim.

I'm sure that there will be further studies that propose an abiotic origin for those compounds. That is the nature of this very important debate. Our understanding of the origin of life itself is at stake here. Any theory that would so fundamentally alter our perception of our place in the universe will be debated for a very long time to come.

I am curious what kind of evidence would convince you of the possibility of extra-terrestrial life? If the researchers are precluded from using Terrestrial models to understand their analysis, what would satisfy you?


dex



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 07:34 AM
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a reply to: ZetaRediculian

There have been analyses of several Mars meteorites that indicate that structures found in the samples resemble those of Terrestrial microorganisms. These are in essence fossils. However, there has been great debate as to the validity of those analyses.

As JadeStar indicated in a previous post:


Morphology alone does not and can not establish life.


Most current theories postulating the existence of life on Mars, in its distance past, propose microscopic life. In this regard, they have found what they believe to be fossils. They have analyzed organic material in the vicinity of these fossils which indicates it is of biological origin. They have also analyzed the morphology of inorganic compounds in the same regions, such as magnetite, which is similar to that produced by Terrestrial magnetotactic organisms. The purity of that magnetite is of such a composition as to preclude it from being created by any known non-biological processes.

The burden of proof is quite high for the researchers who propose such a paradigm-altering theory. I personally can understand this. However, I have yet to hear what level of proof is required for these radical theories to be considered valid.


dex



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 08:44 AM
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originally posted by: DexterRiley
a reply to: OccamsRazor04
a reply to: JadeStar

I wrote up a summary of how this research differs from, and builds upon, the research from 2012.



Thanks for that.



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 08:55 AM
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originally posted by: DexterRiley
a reply to: OccamsRazor04
I am curious what kind of evidence would convince you of the possibility of extra-terrestrial life?



If the researchers are precluded from using Terrestrial models to understand their analysis, what would satisfy you?



These are two very different but related questions.

I already am convinced of the possibly of extra-terrestrial life. I would not be studying what I study if I did not think extra-terrestrial life were possible.

As to the second question: How would we know something is or was alive if it was outside our terrestrial models which test for life?

That's a great question and one which astrobiologists grapple with and are constantly examining so that we don't miss something remarkable someday.

The answer is three fold.

1. We'd look at what was possible within the confines of the environment such possible life exists or existed in. What would its energy sources be? How would such life change itself or its environment? What is it or did it metabolize? Stuff like that could give us clues to it being or having been alive.

2. We'd not make a snap judgement either way based on just one or even a couple of data points. This question is far too important for that. Abiotic sources of what we'd be examining as the signature of life would be thoroughly looked at and would have to be ruled out before anyone would accept that such uniquely alien life existed.

3. We'd work backwards. If there is no terrestrial model then we would model it based upon #1 and run the clock backwards to see how likely that outcome of vastly different life would be given what we'd know about the area such life existed in. Sort of like virtual time travel

edit on 8-12-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 09:59 AM
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a reply to: JadeStar


I already am convinced of the possibly of extra-terrestrial life. I would not be studying what I study if I did not think extra-terrestrial life were possible.

Yes, I gathered that from your ATS title:


Girl With a Scope and a Whole Lotta Hope!

I have read some of your posts, and I am convinced of the depth of your knowledge on this subject matter. It is refreshing to know that someone of your knowledge and experience recognizes the possibility of, and even hopes for, the discovery of extra-terrestrial life.

I like your answer to my query as well. I think we are in agreement somewhat. It is the best answer I have read as to how life on Mars, past or present, could be more conclusively proven.

So, you are saying that the necessary evidence would include not just what the astrobiology community is now examining and debating. The evidence would also need to include indications of an environment that could support the life forms that are postulated. As well as evidence that the lifeforms actually interacted with that environment.

It seems to me that following the terrestrial model is a good place to start. In fact, initially it is all we have to go by. However, the additional dimensions of necessary evidence that you have mentioned would seem to be essential to reach any remotely valid conclusion. The interesting thing is that what you specified is a super-set that includes not only the Terrestrial model, but other possibilities as well.

I also concur that it is necessary to mostly rule out alternative abiotic origins for the evidence the scientists are finding. My greatest concern is that there seems, to me, to be an environment of conformity in most all sectors of the science community. While I would expect there to be some push-back on unique and radical theories, it is my perception that these theories are treated with such disdain that they are completely unable to gain any traction, no matter how much evidence is accumulated. I think that some of this push-back also results in lack of funding for study of these alternative theories, which results in unnecessarily slow progress despite how promising they may be.

Yes, a discovery of this magnitude should be vigorously debated. To confirm extra-terrestrial life even in Mars distant past would fundamentally alter our perception of our place in the universe. There has been much discussion of the repercussions of the proof of such a theory. But, I am more hopeful that there will actually be a debate, rather than the summary dismissal of these theories as has occurred in the past.

Thank you for the feedback!


dex



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 11:04 AM
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originally posted by: DexterRiley
a reply to: JadeStar


I already am convinced of the possibly of extra-terrestrial life. I would not be studying what I study if I did not think extra-terrestrial life were possible.

Yes, I gathered that from your ATS title:


Girl With a Scope and a Whole Lotta Hope!

I have read some of your posts, and I am convinced of the depth of your knowledge on this subject matter. It is refreshing to know that someone of your knowledge and experience recognizes the possibility of, and even hopes for, the discovery of extra-terrestrial life.

I like your answer to my query as well. I think we are in agreement somewhat. It is the best answer I have read as to how life on Mars, past or present, could be more conclusively proven.

So, you are saying that the necessary evidence would include not just what the astrobiology community is now examining and debating. The evidence would also need to include indications of an environment that could support the life forms that are postulated. As well as evidence that the lifeforms actually interacted with that environment.

It seems to me that following the terrestrial model is a good place to start. In fact, initially it is all we have to go by. However, the additional dimensions of necessary evidence that you have mentioned would seem to be essential to reach any remotely valid conclusion. The interesting thing is that what you specified is a super-set that includes not only the Terrestrial model, but other possibilities as well.

I also concur that it is necessary to mostly rule out alternative abiotic origins for the evidence the scientists are finding. My greatest concern is that there seems, to me, to be an environment of conformity in most all sectors of the science community. While I would expect there to be some push-back on unique and radical theories, it is my perception that these theories are treated with such disdain that they are completely unable to gain any traction, no matter how much evidence is accumulated. I think that some of this push-back also results in lack of funding for study of these alternative theories, which results in unnecessarily slow progress despite how promising they may be.

Yes, a discovery of this magnitude should be vigorously debated. To confirm extra-terrestrial life even in Mars distant past would fundamentally alter our perception of our place in the universe. There has been much discussion of the repercussions of the proof of such a theory. But, I am more hopeful that there will actually be a debate, rather than the summary dismissal of these theories as has occurred in the past.

Thank you for the feedback!


dex









Hi i just wrote a very long reply but hit refresh (oops). I have to get going but I will reply again later on. I just wanted to thank you and let you know I have a cool reply for you which I think you will enjoy.



posted on Dec, 8 2014 @ 12:02 PM
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originally posted by: DexterRiley
a reply to: JadeStar

I have read some of your posts, and I am convinced of the depth of your knowledge on this subject matter. It is refreshing to know that someone of your knowledge and experience recognizes the possibility of, and even hopes for, the discovery of extra-terrestrial life.

Thank you.
I do what I can. And yes, I do have hope, there are so many things happening in this field and so many new instruments due to come on line in the next 5 years that it has people older, wiser and a lot smarter than me confident that we will discover definitive proof of extra-terrestrial life within the next 20 years. So I am excited that I may be in the prime of my career during what will be perhaps the most remarkable discovery in the history of remarkable discoveries.





I like your answer to my query as well. I think we are in agreement somewhat. It is the best answer I have read as to how life on Mars, past or present, could be more conclusively proven.


I tried to keep it concise and clear. For each point I made you can probably imagine drilling down and finding a whole layers of questions which would form tests which would address the larger questions. Often when I hear answers to the question you raised, even by some fairly well known science communicators they either a) dumb it down too much or b) make it overly complex (invoking those layers of other questions) to the point where the questioner gets lost.



So, you are saying that the necessary evidence would include not just what the astrobiology community is now examining and debating.


Correct within the very specific second question you gave me. The key words to that question were "If the researchers are precluded from using Terrestrial models to understand their analysis".

That got me thinking about how that would play out if we discovered something which appeared alive but was well outside of comparison to anything on Earth like crystalline life or something other weird but theorized lifeform.

It should be noted that Steps 1 & 3 in my answer would be far simpler if the life resembled Earth life as there would be something to compare it to either from our present day biome or from the fossil record of Earth's distant past.

The sidenote is that life on Earth started fairly soon after the Earth cooled so that gives us confidence that life may be an inevitability wherever the environment is favorable to it.

Which leads us to....



The evidence would also need to include indications of an environment that could support the life forms that are postulated. As well as evidence that the lifeforms actually interacted with that environment.


Yes, having that would be super helpful to making such evidence solid and unassailable. Life does not exist on its own without interaction or a niche so learning more about both would build a strong case for ET life.


It seems to me that following the terrestrial model is a good place to start. In fact, initially it is all we have to go by.


Exactly. I call it the low hanging fruit of Astrobiology for that very reason.


However, the additional dimensions of necessary evidence that you have mentioned would seem to be essential to reach any remotely valid conclusion. The interesting thing is that what you specified is a super-set that includes not only the Terrestrial model, but other possibilities as well.


It has to. Otherwise we might miss something because we simply don't know what is out there or whether our form of life is the most common model. We think it is based on the available evidence but that evidence is confined to one world so we have to not only look for what we think is likely but for what is detectable.

A good example of what happens when we become too wedded to an idea of what we think we'll find based on a sample size of 1 is a story famously told by the "king of the planet hunters" Geoffrey Marcy of the California exoplanet search which was based out of San Francisco State University. He is the man who discovered the most planets around other stars prior to the NASA Kepler mission.

You see, back in 1995 (when i was a year old lol) the planet known as 51 Pegasi b was discovered orbiting the nearby Sunlike star 51 Pegasi. It was the first planet found orbiting another normal star.

But it was not found by Geoffrey Marcy. Instead he was left to confirm a Swiss team's discovery.

Why? Because he and his team made an assumption based on as sample size of 1: Our solar system.

Even though he knew his spectrograph was sensitive enough to detect a Jupiter sized planet around a nearby star and even though his team took years of data on nearby stars including 51 Pegasi he and his team did not look at it closely and weren't planning to until another 8-10 years had passed.

Why? Because Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit our Sun and the conventional thinking then was that other star systems would resemble our Solar System with big gaseous planets like Jupiter far out and small terrestrial planets like the Earth closer to the star.

As the saying goes: Nature does not have to conform to our limited dataset.

Over in Switzerland another team of astronomers made no such assumptions and checked their data frequently. The planet around 51 Pegasi popped out because it orbited so close to its star that its year lasts only 4 of our Earth days.

The low hanging fruit in this case was like nothing we modelled. Nature threw us something unexpected. And that is what great discoveries often are made of.

The rest is history, Geoffrey Marcy was left to confirm the Swiss team's discovery even though had he just checked his data on 51 Pegasi he'd have been the one making it instead of Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.

This of course fueled him to go on and make plenty of discoveries included plenty of other firsts such as the first multi-planet system (Upsilon Andromedae) but the one that got away is a lesson for us all.



I also concur that it is necessary to mostly rule out alternative abiotic origins for the evidence the scientists are finding.


Exactly. Mother nature is a clever and tricky lady. It is often easy to be fooled by her. (continued).

edit on 8-12-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



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