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What some argue is evidence of ancient life in a meteorite from Mars could have a simple chemical explanation, scientists now suggest. These findings could also shed light on of the tricky chemistry going on in the atmospheres of both Mars and Earth.
Impacting space rocks on Mars over the years have hurled debris off the planet, some of which has landed on Earth. One such rock — the 3.9 billion-year-old meteorite known as ALH84001 — had globular, micron-sized carbonate particles seemingly arranged in chains that some thought must have been made by ancient Martian life. However, researchers have now discovered a new way to form carbonates on Earth without interference from biological organisms. They suggest this process likely takes place on Mars as well.
Unusual oxygen type: The carbonates seen in ALH84001 possessed unusually high levels of the isotope oxygen-17. (An oxygen atom has eight protons in its nucleus, and while most of these also have eight neutrons, oxygen-17 has nine.) Atmospheric chemist Robina Shaheen at the University of California at San Diego discovered anomalously high levels of oxygen-17 in carbonates found on dust grains, aerosols and dirt on Earth as well. This hinted that a chemical process common to both planets might be at work.
I don't. I was alive in 1996 when they made the initial announcement which said:
Originally posted by anon72
Now, most of us will remember the ground breaking news of 2007 (I think) of LIFE ON MARS-Proof.
So, it says "inorganic formation is possible"!!
The carbonate globules are similar in texture and size to some terrestrial bacterially induced carbonate precipitates. Although inorganic formation is possible, formation of the globules by biogenic processes could explain many of the observed features, including the PAHs. The PAHs, the carbonate globules, and their associated secondary mineral phases and textures could thus be fossil remains of a past martian biota.
I'm skeptical of some science too, however the far bigger problem we need to be skeptical of, are media reports which distort what the scientists actually say. For example the media has a headline like "proof of alien life" and then you read the article and the fine print says "possibly formed by organic process but may also have been formed by inorganic process".
As each story passes, I have become more skeptical of science and the rush to publish it's findings etc.
That's a misleading statement, which suggests that the McKays team claims it's evidence of life, when they openly admit inorganic processes may be possible and have admitted that for the last 14 years.
What some argue is evidence of ancient life in a meteorite from Mars could have a simple chemical explanation, scientists now suggest.
McKay's team didn't claim it had definitive proof that the meteorites they are studying (snip) contain the remains of living organisms. Rather, the researchers described their re-energized confidence as emerging from a process of nitty-gritty science, based on inference, simulated testing and a kind of interplanetary forensics.
Originally posted by Xcathdra
Why is it so damn impossible to get a scientist to confirm there are microbes on other planets?
I don't see that arrogance you are talking about, quite the contrary. I think most scientists believe in the likelihood of early life on Mars and would love to see evidence of it.
Originally posted by Xcathdra
I just find it supremely arrogant that we think we are it in the Universe.