A 4 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars that caused a splash here on Earth decades ago contains no evidence of ancient, primitive Martian life after all, scientists reported Thursday.
In 1996, a NASA-led team announced that organic compounds in the rock appeared to have been left by living creatures. Other scientists were skeptical and researchers chipped away at that premise over the decades, most recently by a team led by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Andrew Steele, reports AP.
Groundwater moving through the cracks in the rock, while it was still on Mars, formed the tiny globs of carbon that are present, according to the researchers.
The same thing can happen on Earth and could help explain the presence of methane in Mars’ atmosphere, they said.
But two scientists who took part in the original study took issue with these latest findings, calling them “disappointing.”
In a shared email, they said they stand by their 1996 observations.
“While the data presented incrementally adds to our knowledge of (the meteorite), the interpretation is hardly novel, nor is it supported by the research,” wrote Kathie Thomas-Keprta and Simon Clemett, astromaterial researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
According to Steele, advances in technology made his team’s new findings possible.