Possible evidence for past life in Martian meteorite NWA 998

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PostPosted: April 25, 2010 11:28 PM 

I received an interesting report this week, courtesy of Nick Balaskas, regarding additional possible evidence for past microscopic life on Mars, found in another well-known Martian meteorite, NWA 998. Recent studies of fragments from within the meteorite using an electron microscope at the University of Toronto revealed what appear to be microscopic sized filaments of some kind. From the preliminary e-mail report:

“To minimize contamination, several fragments of NWA 998 broken off the interior of the meteorite (not from the cut and polished ends) were first obtained. As can be seen in the microphotos taken by my colleague Sal with UofT's electron microscope, the filament-like structures seem to be embedded within the rocky meteorite fragments or growing along natural micro cracks in the rock rather than lying on the surface as foreign particles and other contamination such as microfibres would.

Of course, some of these microscopic filament-like structures may have a geological rather biological origin as pointed out to me by others more experience in such matters. This is why I plan to compare the atoms on the surface of the filament-like structures with the atoms on the surface of the surrounding rocky parts. If our x-ray microprobe analysis (a feature of this electron microscope) show the strong presense of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and other atoms commonly found in organic compounds that have a biological origin but are nearly absent in the material around the filament-like structures, then our case that these are indeed Martians would be strengthened.”

Additional and larger images are in my original blog post:


These images are presented for consideration and feedback; observations by geologists or biologists in particular would be welcome as to the possible nature of these filaments.

Dana Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: April 27, 2010 8:31 AM 


This is a 3x enlarged view with additional inset showing a few of the numerous 'starfish' shapes as I was describing them, from the Opportunity MI imaging. These are weathering from the 'filament' structures which are found in some of the micro-cracks in the interior of the freshly opened meteorite.
Interesting that the breakdown of these Earth based filaments in a Martian meteorite, should present to us the first evidence of the content of the MER MI Opportunity objects we can only watch from a distance. I do not remember these filaments in clear view associated with the multitudinous numbers of these objects when I viewed the Opportunity MI's.
The items seen here were in the debris of the filaments, and were limited in placement in the images you presented, as only near the filaments within the meteorite.

We should have a higher powered view of the items to ascertain the details and real chemistry. Also the chemistry could have changes with the addition of long term water immersion or exposure of some type as has been estimated from the 'presence of water bearing minerals', described in your links.

An image of broken open fragments of the NWA998 item, from the 'catchafallingstar' website.


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PostPosted: April 27, 2010 12:16 PM 

Some of the "starfish" shapes from OPP. MI's.

i called them "berry nests"

as you can see, they are both in the rock, and in the soil.

Dana Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: April 27, 2010 2:51 PM 


I seem to have no memory of large fibers with the larger Meridiani rimmed or petaled spheroids, but we saw many fibers slightly larger than the type seen in the NWA998 meteorite interior material exposed. I do remember growths emmanating from below some large standard spheroids, which seemed to have grown in place.
Still all a mystery until we see tests for each item on the rover images.

Dana Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: April 27, 2010 3:15 PM 

I read no explanation of the multiple sectioned character of the fibers, with the 'wrapped' inter-grown mating of these very small meteorite bound repeats. It just doesn't look like a 'glass', or augite mineral to me.
Where are our geology persons?
This did resemble the Suevite impact material to my view, somewhat.


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PostPosted: May 6, 2010 7:56 AM 

Bizarre super-small microbes discovered.

This caught my eye for a number of reasons:

"super-small" ( what an oxymoron ) size;

"battery acid" environment;

45% of genes "unknown".

Perhaps the Martians are "among us"?


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PostPosted: May 6, 2010 9:49 AM 

I have mentioned in other threads that in my view Archaea is the type of life form that could very well exist in caves and other undeground systems on Mars.

There are conditions here on Earth that potentially are very similar to those on Mars and life exists in those environments. Archaea secretes Sulphuric Acid, there are Extremophiles being discovered every year which Astrobiologists are studying with great interest.

Nature replicates itself throughout the Universe, so yes Hort "They Are Here!"


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PostPosted: May 11, 2010 11:05 AM 


Washington Post article on this topic.

Joe Smith

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PostPosted: May 12, 2010 4:15 PM 

Thanks for the link Barsoomer,I really got caught up in the responses to the scientist findings,most of them very sad and depressing as people seem to find it harder and harder to see beyond their own personal little world,and very little of what things of this sort means to humanity as a whole.

ross marshall

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PostPosted: February 4, 2013 10:50 PM 

Mother Narure does not extend beyond earth, because she likes to hang around idiots, and there are no idiots out there; only on earth.

ross marshall

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PostPosted: February 4, 2013 10:54 PM 

Things with big wings can fly.
All pigs have wings.
Earth pigs can fly.
Mars has pigs.
Mars pigs must have wings too.
Mars pigs can fly.

John Henry Dough

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PostPosted: February 11, 2013 12:34 AM 

ross,,I liked your reply 29.
How true.

I remain a bit bemused about how upon return
to Earth samples (presumably in 2020ish),,
how will these samples be examined on a world with three times the gravity they came from?

There are some very smart people on these two forums,,,,,prove it to me.Please.


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PostPosted: July 5, 2013 11:20 AM 

Upcoming talk on Tuesday at the SETI Institute. (This should be available a few weeks later on youtube video at www.youtube.com/setiinstitute.)


Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034 is a new type of martian meteorite discovered in Morocco
in 2011. NWA 7034 aka "Black Beauty", nicknamed for its dark shiny appearance, contains ten times more water than other martian meteorites. This combined with its oxidation state which is highest among martian meteorites, its anomalous oxygen isotope values, and its early Amazonian age, make it an extraordinarily valuable specimen for understanding surface processes, aqueous alteration, and atmosphere/lithosphere exchange reactions that existed on Mars ~2 billion years ago.

Dr. Agee will show that Black Beauty appears to be the first martian meteorite to match the surface geochemistry of Mars, as seen by landers and orbiters, and as such, it has particular relevance to the current Mars Science Laboratory mission at Gale Crater.


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PostPosted: July 6, 2013 1:36 PM 


More about the Tissint Meteorite.


"The results clearly favor a biogenetic origin."


Session on Mars meteorites.

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