sunny.png
Thursday January 27th, 2022 11:58AM

Study nixes Mars life in meteorite found in Antarctica

By The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A 4 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars that caused a splash here on Earth decades ago contains no evidence of ancient, primitive Martian life after all, scientists reported Thursday.

In 1996, a NASA-led team announced that organic compounds in the rock appeared to have been left by living creatures. Other scientists were skeptical and researchers chipped away at that premise over the decades, most recently by a team led by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Andrew Steele.

Tiny samples from the meteorite show the carbon-rich compounds are actually the result of water — most likely salty, or briny, water — flowing over the rock for a prolonged period, Steele said. The findings appear in the journal Science.

During Mars' wet and early past, at least two impacts occurred near the rock, heating the planet's surrounding surface, before a third impact bounced it off the red planet and into space millions of years ago. The 4-pound (2-kilogram) rock was found in Antarctica in 1984.

Groundwater moving through the cracks in the rock, while it was still on Mars, formed the tiny globs of carbon that are present, according to the researchers. The same thing can happen on Earth and could help explain the presence of methane in Mars' atmosphere, they said.

But two scientists who took part in the original study took issue with these latest findings, calling them “disappointing." In a shared email, they said they stand by their 1996 observations.

“While the data presented incrementally adds to our knowledge of (the meteorite), the interpretation is hardly novel, nor is it supported by the research,” wrote Kathie Thomas-Keprta and Simon Clemett, astromaterial researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“Unsupported speculation does nothing to resolve the conundrum surrounding the origin of organic matter” in the meteorite, they added.

According to Steele, advances in technology made his team's new findings possible.

He commended the measurements by the original researchers and noted that their life-claiming hypothesis “was a reasonable interpretation" at the time. He said he and his team — which includes NASA, German and British scientists — took care to present their results “for what they are, which is a very exciting discovery about Mars and not a study to disprove” the original premise.

This finding “is huge for our understanding of how life started on this planet and helps refine the techniques we need to find life elsewhere on Mars, or Enceladus and Europa,” Steele said in an email, referring to Saturn and Jupiter’s moons with subsurface oceans.

The only way to prove whether Mars ever had or still has microbial life, according to Steele, is to bring samples to Earth for analysis. NASA's Perseverance Mars rover already has collected six samples for return to Earth in a decade or so; three dozen samples are desired.

Millions of years after drifting through space, the meteorite landed on an icefield in Antarctica thousands of years ago. The small gray-green fragment got its name — Allan Hills 84001 — from the hills where it was found.

Just this week, a piece of this meteorite was used in a first-of-its-kind experiment aboard the International Space Station. A mini scanning electron microscope examined the sample; Thomas-Keprta operated it remotely from Houston. Researchers hope to use the microscope to analyze geologic samples in space — on the moon one day, for example — and debris that could ruin station equipment or endanger astronauts.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Strange News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Twitter, Meta among tech giants subpoenaed by Jan. 6 panel
The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has issued subpoenas to Twitter, Meta, Reddit and YouTube, demanding documents after lawmakers said the companies’ initial responses were inadequate
4:31PM ( 3 minutes ago )
RNC threatens to boycott commission's presidential debates
The Republican National Committee says it is planning a rules change that would force presidential candidates seeking the party’s nomination to sign a pledge saying they will not participate in any debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates
4:22PM ( 11 minutes ago )
29 charged in 6-state shoplifting ring that hit pharmacies
Authorities have arrested more than two dozen people for allegedly taking part in a multistate shoplifting ring involving more than $10 million in stolen merchandise
4:21PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
DA criticized for handling of police shooting of 8-year-old
Elected officials and activists are harshly critical of a suburban Philadelphia prosecutor over his handling of the case of an 8-year-old girl hit by police gunfire
3:34PM ( 59 minutes ago )
NYC mayor considering virtual learning plan for schools
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is considering allowing the nation’s largest school district to return to some form of virtual instruction as the city weathers a wave of coronavirus cases
3:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden all but concedes defeat on voting, election bills
All but acknowledging defeat, President Joe Biden now says he’s “not sure” his elections and voting rights legislation can pass Congress this year
3:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Queen removes Prince Andrew's military roles, patronages
Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II has stripped Prince Andrew of all his honorary military titles and royal roles in charities and other civic groups, amid a growing furor over allegations he sexually abused a teenage girl supplied to him by financier Jeffrey Epstein
1:38PM ( 2 hours ago )
ABC News draws fire for editing of CDC director's interview
ABC News is under fire for how it edited an interview that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave to “Good Morning America.”
1:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
GOP leader McCarthy says he won't cooperate with 1/6 panel
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is refusing a request by the House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection to submit to an interview and turn over records pertaining to the deadly riot
1:24PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
MLB talks resume after 42-day gap, little evident progress
Labor talks to end the baseball lockout have resumed for the first time in 1 1/2 months with little evident progress during a bargaining session that lasted about an hour, jeopardizing a timely start to spring training
3:47PM ( 46 minutes ago )
As omicron surges, HealthCare.gov sign-up deadline arrives
People looking for health insurance in the grip of the omicron surge have through Saturday to sign up for taxpayer-subsidized private coverage under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act
2:24PM ( 2 hours ago )
Stocks wobble lower as investors monitor inflation, earnings
Stocks wobbled mostly lower Thursday afternoon as investors gauged the latest data on inflation and company earnings
2:09PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
29 charged in 6-state shoplifting ring that hit pharmacies
Authorities have arrested more than two dozen people for allegedly taking part in a multistate shoplifting ring involving more than $10 million in stolen merchandise
4:21PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Tech stocks lead Wall Street lower again, Nasdaq falls 2.5%
Technology stocks led another decline on Wall Street Thursday, leaving the Nasdaq composite down 2.5%
4:13PM ( 20 minutes ago )
AP source: Texans fire Culley after just one season as coach
The Houston Texans have fired coach David Culley after just one season
3:48PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Teachers confront half-empty classrooms as virus surges
Teachers around the U.S. are confronting classrooms where as many as half of students are absent
3:48PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Navient settles predatory student loan claims for $1.85B
Navient, a major student loan servicing company, has settled allegations of abusive lending practices for $1.85 billion
3:48PM ( 46 minutes ago )