Feeds

NASA scientist spies extraterrestrial life

Meteorites show signs of bacteria – allegedly

The next step in data security

A NASA scientist claims to have identified signs of extraterrestrial bacteria in meteorites, and if he's right, it means a strong boost to the theory that such entities are common and could be the origin of life on Earth.

In his paper Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites, published on Friday in the Journal of Cosmology, Richard B Hoover of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center says: "Environmental (ESEM) and Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM) investigations of the internal surfaces of the CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites have yielded images of large complex filaments.

"The filaments have been observed to be embedded in freshly fractured internal surfaces of the stones. They exhibit features (eg, the size and size ranges of the internal cells and their location and arrangement within sheaths) that are diagnostic of known genera and species of trichomic cyanobacteria and other trichomic prokaryotes such as the filamentous sulphur bacteria."

Hoover explained to Reuters that the alleged bacteria have "lots of carbon, a marker for Earth-type life". They don't have nitrogen, but its absence "only means that whatever nitrogen was in these structures has decomposed out into a gaseous form long ago", Hoover claimed.

He said: "We have known for a long time that there were very interesting biomarkers in carbonaceous meteorites and the detection of structures that are very similar ... to known terrestrial cyanobacteria is interesting in that it indicates that life is not restricted to the planet Earth."

Reuters notes that this isn't the first claimed sighting of diminutive aliens. Back in 1996, a four-billion-year-old Martian meteorite unearthed in Antarctica apparently showed signs of fossilised microbes.

The scientific community proved hard to convince, and confirmation of the discovery has proved elusive.

Accordingly, the Journal of Cosmology's editor-in-chief added the following statement to Hoover's findings: "Dr Richard Hoover is a highly respected scientist and astrobiologist with a prestigious record of accomplishment at NASA.

"Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis."

Hoover's study is of the nine known CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites – an "extremely rare" beast among over 35,000 meteorites recovered on Earth. They're "the most primitive of all known meteorites in terms of solar elemental abundances and the highest content of volatiles", he explains. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.