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Researchers Find Biosignatures in Martian Rock

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ALH-77005, a Martian rock found in Antarctica, contains numerous mineralized ‘biosignatures,’ including coccoidal, filamentous structures and organic material, according to a team of scientists from Hungary.

“The research will also be of interest to planetologists, experts of meteorite and astrobiology as well as researchers of the origin of life, and to the general public since it offers an example of a novel aspect of microbial mediation in stone meteorites.”

In 1977-1978, the achondrite meteorite ALH-77005 was found embedded in the ice at the Allan Hills site in South Victoria Land during the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research mission.

It had a rounded shape and its surface was partially ablated and roughly-polished by wind-blown ice.

Thin section of ALH-77005 in plane polarized light: the area studied by FTIR spectroscopy is marked by rectangle, where the strong putative microbially mediated alteration was observed. Image credit: Gyollai et al, doi: 10.1515/astro-2019-0002.

Its age is estimated to be about 175 million years, with an exposure to cosmic rays of about 3 million years.

“Our work is important to a broad audience because it integrates planetary, earth, biological, chemical, and environmental sciences and will be of interest to many researchers in those fields,” says lead author Ildiko Gyollai from HAS Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences in Budapest. “The research will also be of interest to planetologists, experts of meteorite and astrobiology as well as researchers of the origin of life, and to the general public since it offers an example of a novel aspect of microbial mediation in stone meteorites”

This new research could change the examination of meteorites in the future. In light of their discovery, the authors posit that solar system materials should be studied to establish whether there is evidence of microbial forms within space rocks – and an indication that there was once life on Mars.

Source:
https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/astro.2019.28.issue-1/astro-2019-0002/astro-2019-0002.xml

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