TNRTB Archive – Retained for reference information
Scientists who found organic material in a Martian meteorite that struck Earth claim it originated from Martian organisms, but the claim seems illegitimate. Given the track record of Martian life claims and the history of the meteorite (named Nakhla), it seems more reasonable that terrestrial contamination explains the findings. Detailed study of Nakhla revealed organic matter residing in thin veins similar to findings in basaltic glass of modern ocean crustal rock on Earth. However, given the history of Nakhla (it fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911, killing a dog) and the abundance of terrestrial life, scientists expect rampant contamination. Although the scientists claim to have accounted for contamination, RTB concurs with a prominent astrobiologist’s statement, “In Nakhla, I assume it’s contamination. Prove me wrong.”
- Richard A. Kerr, “New Signs of Ancient Life in Another Martian Meteorite?” Science 311 (2006): 1858-59.
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