LONDON -- The scientists who claimed last August to have found evidence of life on Mars have announced that they have strengthened their case.
One of the main criticisms of the claims, based on studies of the meteorite rock ALH 84001, was that organisms so small -- only one hundredth the diameter of a human hair in length -- had never been recorded on Earth.
Now US scientists led by Dr. Everett Gibson of NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Tex., in collaboration with a British team led by Prof. Colin Pillinger of the Open University, have found "nanobacteria" living two kilometres down in the basalt rock of the Columbia River Valley.
They are to present their findings in a lecture given at Gresham College in London [the week of Dec 16]. "The beautiful thing is the story appears to be holding together," Gibson said.
The team also reported evidence that the carbonates found in ALH 84001 did not contaminate it by seeping in from the Antarctic ice where the meteorite was discovered but formed on Mars 3.6 billion years ago.
Clues to past life are turning up in other rock samples from outer space. Pillinger found that several other specimens shared five or six chemical properties of ALH 84001, including evidence of organic compounds.
Original file name: CNI - NanoBacteria.Mars
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