According to a recent paper submitted by an international team of scientists, that evidence may have arrived on Earth three and a half years ago aboard a meteorite that fell in the Moroccan desert. Believed to have broken away from Mars 700,000 years ago, so-called Tissint meteorite has internal features that researchers say appear to be organic materials.
The paper appeared in the scientific journal Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences. In it, the research team – which includes scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) – indicate organic carbon is located inside fissures in the rock. All indications are the meteorite is Martian in origin.
“So far, there is no other theory that we find more compelling,” says Philippe Gillet, director of EPFL’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Laboratory. He and his colleagues from China, Japan and Germany performed a detailed analysis of organic carbon traces from a Martian meteorite, and have concluded that they have a very probable biological origin.
Physicist Rob Sheldon writes to say
It is a credible report, but nothing new. We have known about organic carbon on Mars since the infamous ALH84001 Martian meteorite, which in 1996 began the Conference that I attend every August. We have Mars pictures that show algae growing on rocks, algae growing on snow. We have spectroscopic evidence of methane (undoubtedly biological in origin) growing and waning in the atmosphere with the seasons. We have a picture of a fossil crinoid found by the Mars rover, fossil “blueberries”, almost too much information to process.
What this report reveals, is that one can now talk about life on Mars without losing one’s job. Slowly the field is moving as a result of death and attrition.
Well, if it is indeed life, it’ll probably persist and we will hear more about it.
See also: Origin of life: Could it all have come together in one very special place?
Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life)
Hat tip: Timothy Kershner