Monday, January 11, 2010

New Meterorites from Mars found in Antarctic and Museum Basement. Still No Proof of Life.

Search for Meteorites Program (ANSMET) is funded by the Meteorite scientists document a new find in the Antarctic. The Antarctic Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Credit: ANSMET/NSF

Three Martian meteorites triple evidence for Mars life

The team that found evidence of Martian life in a meteorite that landed in Antarctica believes that during 2010, by using advanced instrumentation on now three Martian meteorites, it will be able to definitively prove whether such features are truly fossils of alien life on the Red Planet.

This new information goes well beyond the updated findings released by NASA in November 2009 about signatures for magnetic type bacteria.

"We do not yet believe that we have rigorously proven there is [or was ] life on Mars." says David S. McKay, chief of astrobiology at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

"But we do believe that we are very, very close to proving there is or has been life there," McKay tells Spaceflight Now. "

"The possibility of life on Mars has become a scientific issue of profound importance and great public interest," Michael Meyer, the NASA Headquarters senior scientist for Mars exploration, told an audience of several hundred scientists at the recent American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

And in a 2009 editorial, The Economist, a highly regarded British publication, also noted the explosion of both public and scientific interest in Mars saying "the possibility of life on Mars is too thrilling for mankind to ignore."

In the mid-1990s, when the JSC team found what it interprets as Martian fossils inside a meteorite that landed near Allen Hills in Antarctica, it was the only example at the time of suspected fossils in a meteorite from Mars.

The team, however, believes it has since tripled its fossil-like data by finding more "biomorphs" (suspected Martian fossils) inside two additional Martian meteorites, as well as more evidence at other spots in the Allen Hills meteorite itself.

Remarkably, some of the most striking new evidence for life on Mars is being found inside in a meteorite that has been sitting in the British Museum of Natural History in London for nearly 100 years, says McKay.

Had British researchers examined their "Nakhla" meteorite with readily available electron microscopes and other tools like those used by the U.S. team, the new evidence for life on Mar s could have been a British discovery, rather than an American one.

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