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Life On Martian Meteorites Essay

2010 words - 8 pages

ABSTRACT
In this paper, the great dispute of whether or not there is real evidence of life on martian meteorites is discussed. Findings of carbon globules, nanocrystal magnetites, and rod-shaped objects on ALH84001, Nakhla and Yamata 593 suggest biogenic processes once occurred on Mars. Furthermore, past atmospheric conditions and a current abundance of methane gas build more justification to martian life. Many of these discoveries are accused of being accounted for by either terrestrial contamination or abiotic processes, but composition analysis and model experiments show that contamination cannot be held fully responsible. It is concluded that martian meteorites do provide insight and valid evidence for extraterrestrial life.

INTRODUCTION
The question of life beyond Earth has been debated upon since over 2000 years ago, when Greek scholars first discovered that our planet was not alone the universe. Out of the eight current planets in our solar system, Mars is said to be the most similar to Earth, suggesting that it is the most probable planet to have encompassed life, if any. Although today it is cold and arid, the red planet was once warmer and wetter with a thicker atmosphere and could very well have allowed life to form.
Martian meteorites that have landed on Earth contain evidence that justifies the presence of life in space. First, we are certain these meteorites are in fact from Mars from measuring and matching their noble gas ratios to that of Mars (McKay et al. 1996). Findings within the Allan Hills (ALH84001) meteorite by a team of NASA researchers ignited immense interest in the subject of martian life in 1996. The team discovered polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as globules of carbonate and miniscule “ovoid forms”, which they suggested were fossilized nanobacteria (Mckay et al. 1996). Two other meteorites, Nakhla and Yamato 593, have also presented similar findings to that of ALH84001 (McKay et al. 1996). Confirmation of these biological artefacts is important as it would finally resolve the debate of the century.
The breakthrough of fossilized nanobacteria on martian meteorites was the first real evidence supporting life beyond our planet, escalating the already controversial subject. It has allowed fantasies of aliens and U. F. O.’s to essentially become a reality. Although many continue to disagree with this statement and accuse findings to be irrelevant, further research on the composition Mars and its meteorites have provided justice to extraterrestrial life.
MARS AND ITS ATMOSPHERE
Before even considering extraterrestrial life in the first place, the necessary elements must be available. As mentioned above, the red planet was once warmer and wetter, providing ideal conditions for life. The availability of water is of utmost importance when regarding life. On Mars’ surface, the existence of carved channel networks provides evidence for possible floods in the past (Baker 2001). In...

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