When scientists announced that they had found evidence of past life in a meteorite from Mars in 1996, it set off a controversy that has been going back and forth even now. The latest research, published in the journal American Mineralogist casts doubt that it’s life that was in the space rock. The original discoverers believed that magnetite in the rock was formed by bacteria, but this new paper shows that it can also be caused by an inorganic process, which can be duplicated in the laboratory when iron-bearing carbonates decompose under high heat (such as atmospheric reentry).
A group of scientists from Washington University in St. Louis found nine specks of silicate stardust inside a primitive meteorite, after examining more than 159,000 particles. This is an important discovery, because it tells researchers that the early solar system formed from gas and dust, and not in a hot solar nebula – until now, these silicate particles had only been found in interplanetary dust. The team used a special mass spectrometer to analyze the composition of individual grains in the meteorite, searching for particles which had to be formed in stars.
Researchers from the University of Queensland believe they have more evidence that supports the theory that NASA researchers found life in a Martian meteorite back in 1996. Their new technique uses an electron microscope to see through the bacteria and into the gel surrounding the magnetic crystals inside the creature. Their research indicates that the bacteria likely lived four billion years ago, before life was even believed to have formed here on Earth. Their research was published in the Journal of Microscopy.