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Friday, January 15, 2010

NASA: Life on Mars? Maybe.

Spaceflight Now has an interesting article about NASA making a gutsy prediction. Based on Martian meteorites found in Antarctica, NASA scientists in Houston are close to declaring--as early as 2010--that there was (and perhaps is) life on Mars. They're basing these claims on the merits of newer equipment, high resolution electron microscopy tools and an ion microprobe analysis system, not available when research first began in 1994.

What is being scrutinized is fossil evidence of microorganism found in the Martian meteorites, which have trapped Noble gas compositions similar to those measured on Mars by Viking landers in the 1970s. A long-term challenge to this idea--that the fossil-like features in the meteorites (see image) were created by the impact explosions that sent the meteorites to Earth--has been proven false, according to NASA.

An interesting science gamesmanship sidebar: according to the article, the British could have beat the Americans to the claim if they had examined meteorites that have been in the British Museum of Natural History for over a century.

Go here for the rest of the NASA close to declaring life on Mars article.

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