A NASA astrobiologist has published a paper in the online Journal of Cosmology in which he claims he has discovered signs of ancient fossil bacteria in a rare class of meteorites.
The scientist, Dr. Richard Hoover, wrote the paper after 10 years of studying and collecting meteorites in remote areas of the globe. An astrobiologist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, his study reportedly discovered ancient bacteria on a very rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites, of which only nine such examples are known to exist on Earth.
According to Northern Arizona University, carbonaceous chondrites are
"those that obviously contain carbon-bearing matter: elemental carbon, nano diamonds, abiotic organic compounds, fullerenes, and other rare, carbon forms. Because of this carbon-bearing matter, these meteorites are probably the most important type of meteorite for research, a genealogical root of the tree of life. "
The CI1 refers to the degree of water processing or aqueous alteration which occurred. Aqueous alteration is a process in which changes to minerals occur through reactions with water.
Hoover claimed that his research discovered fossilized bacteria on the meteorites. He fractured them, and them examined them under scanning electron microscopes. He found, he believed, evidence of bacteria, some of which could be considered similar to generic bacteria native to earth, but some of which stumped both him and any colleagues he showed them to.
Dr. Hoover, speaking exclusively to Fox News (separately from the paper) said “I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth. This field of study has just barely been touched -- because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible."
In fact, this study will undoubtedly be controversial. As such, the Journal of Cosmology posted the following note along with the study:
Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis. Our intention is to publish the commentaries, both pro and con, alongside Dr. Hoover's paper. In this way, the paper will have received a thorough vetting, and all points of view can be presented. No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough analysis, and no other scientific journal in the history of science has made such a profoundly important paper available to the scientific community, for comment, before it is published. We believe the best way to advance science, is to promote debate and discussion.
The comments will, according to the site, be published March 7 - 10.
Hoover himself is not concerned about the vetting process for his research. He said:
“If someone can explain how it is possible to have a biological remain that has no nitrogen, or nitrogen below the detect ability limits that I have, in a time period as short as 150 years, then I would be very interested in hearing that. I’ve talked with many scientists about this and no one has been able to explain,
Image source: Journal of Cosmology
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