Was life on Mars found by scientists? The Tissint meteorite actually crash-landed on Earth on July of 2011, but now researchers believe it's possible the rock may provide evidence of organic life in space.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, at least one scientist believes that finding life on Mars with NASA's 2020 Mars rover program would be a bad thing for the future of humanity since it would essentially be the death knell for dreams of a Star Trek future. Of course, Russian astronauts on the International Space Station recently found actual life in space, but no one is sure how these living creatures called tardigrades managed to get up to the ISS.
Scientists believe the Tissint meteorite provides evidence of life on Mars because the small fissures are said to contain carbon-containing fluids of biological origin. It's believed the meteorite was created when an asteroid impacted with Mars and ejected debris into space which eventually landed in the Moroccan desert. A piece of the Tissint metorite was put up for auction in 2012, but scientists now believe it's an origin of life gold mine.
"The presence of organic-rich fluids that infiltrated rocks near the surface of Mars has significant implications for the study of Martian paleoenvironment and perhaps [for a] search for possible ancient biological activities on Mars," the researchers wrote in a study recently published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
Although some scientists have suggested that the carbon isotopes may have come from Mars' atmosphere, Philippe Gillet, an earth and planetary scientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, claims their analysis shows the carbon is too light to have come from the air. The carbon also contains high levels of deuterium, heavy hydrogen with one proton and one neutron in its nucleus, a known component of geology on Mars.
Andrew Steele, a microbiologist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has studied the Tissint meteorite and believes it does not constitute solid evidence for life on Mars.
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," said Steele according to Live Science. "I think the onus is on [the researchers] to provide that extraordinary evidence. I don't think they have it at the moment."
In a study previously published in 2012, Steele found that other organic matter found in Tissint and 10 other meteorites did not originate with life on Mars, but instead were caused by volcanic processes. Although Steele was not involved with the new research on the carbon isotopes, he hypothesizes it's possible the organic matter may have come from contamination on Earth, other life-containing meteorites that hit Mars, or potentially a chemical process not involving life in space. Allan Treiman, a planetary scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, also notes that "organic-bearing fluids are found in some [volcanic] rocks on Earth, and are interpreted as [not] having anything to do with life."