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Martian Meteorite Not Evidence of Extraterrestrials, Scientists Say (Yep, that rock we all know of)

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posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 09:23 AM
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Infamous Mars rock purported to carry signs of Martian biology. Years later, debate continues to swirl around meteorite ALH84001 and whether or not biological processes in the rock of ages are truly evident.


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.


Source: www.space.com...


Now, most of us will remember the ground breaking news of 2007 (I think) of LIFE ON MARS-Proof. And the rock sample shown above was trouted out as the proof holder etc. We even had a pretty good thread on ATS about it: NASA team cites new evidence that meteorites from Mars contain ancient fossilswww.space.com...

Even myself got caught up in the fevor and beleived everything presented by NASA as fact. Then I joined ATS.

I pretty much left this topic out of my head, again, thinking it was the absolute truth. Well, with this admission and the apparent eveidence that was presented recently about things being able to live in arsenic..... it got me thinking

Just like this article indicates. What was evidenct on Mars-the rock sampling, can occur on Earth-without the help from anything from Space etc.

As each story passes, I have become more skeptical of science and the rush to publish it's findings etc. I am about to say there are no absolutes.... when it comes to Space. How can we know anything for sure. We have only been going into Space for about 45 years so..... we're experts?

With the universe apparently as large as it is, I tend to think ANYTHING is possible and nothing is Absolute.

So, it's back to the drawing board (so-to-speak) but at least they are able to do that.

I think most of us want to see some evidence of other life but I don't think we should jump to conclusions-no matter how convincing they are. Until they are properly cross-checked and varified.




posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 10:14 AM
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Originally posted by anon72
Now, most of us will remember the ground breaking news of 2007 (I think) of LIFE ON MARS-Proof.
I don't. I was alive in 1996 when they made the initial announcement which said:

www.sciencemag.org...


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.
So, it says "inorganic formation is possible"!!

They never claimed otherwise, and I never saw any credible claim of "proof" unless it was some whacked out story in the Enquirer with a sensationalist headline?


As each story passes, I have become more skeptical of science and the rush to publish it's findings etc.
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".

Take the first line of the latest article you cite:


What some argue is evidence of ancient life in a meteorite from Mars could have a simple chemical explanation, scientists now suggest.
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.

That's been the crux of the debate for 14 years. Does this latest find really change/settle anything? They knew back in 1996 it was possibly an inorganic formation. They never claimed to have proof (prove me wrong) they still admit that they have no proof:

www.washingtonpost.com...


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.


At the rate things are going we may not know for a long time (if ever) if the carbonates are the result of organic or inorganic processes. So the debate rages on, mostly skeptical though it seems, which is as it should be...it is after all, an extraordinary claim to find evidence of life on another planet. But in contrast to the skepticism about that claim, it seems most scientists are friendly toward the possibility of early life on Mars.



posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 10:39 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


Excellent post, as always.



however the far bigger problem we need to be skeptical of, are media reports which distort what the scientists actually say.


You hit the nail on the head with this one statement.

Good job.



posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 03:35 PM
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reply to post by anon72
 


This kinda reminds me of the seens from the 2nd Gulf war in downtown Baghdad. Baghdad Bob was giving his press conference saying they were beating the Americans back, while in the background you can see MIA! tanks rolling through.

Why is it so damn impossible to get a scientist to confirm there are microbes on other planets? Seriously, this is not the dark ages anymore, and I doubt announcing they found bacteria on mars is going to cause the end of the world.



posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 04:04 PM
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Originally posted by Xcathdra
Why is it so damn impossible to get a scientist to confirm there are microbes on other planets?


Well, it would help if there actually were microbes on other planets. That would go a long way toward confirmation. After all, that's a pretty big announcement. You don't want to make it, only to have to come back six months later and say, "Oops. I guess we were wrong. Duh."

edit on 10-12-2010 by Blue Shift because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 04:22 PM
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reply to post by Blue Shift
 


Fair point I guess.. I just do not beleive NASA when they say they have not found anything in the Solar System. Its almost as if they announce microbial life, that they will have to make the next big announcement, complex life.

I dunno maybe its just me.. I just find it supremely arrogant that we think we are it in the Universe. Then again maybe we are the "special" section in the Galactic Zoo, with nerf helmets and plastic scissors.



posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 04:29 PM
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Originally posted by Xcathdra
I just find it supremely arrogant that we think we are it in the Universe.
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.

The problem isn't that they don't believe it's possible, they DO think it's possible, they just don't think this is the evidence we're looking for since it could have formed naturally. Even the guy who thinks it IS evidence of life admits it could have formed naturally.



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