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Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Lack of Evidence

Mars Meteorite.
Mars Meteorite.
Credit: David J. Phillip / AP
(MSNBC) - A Group led by Peter R. Buseck of Arizona State University said that the NASA researchers have inadequate evidence showing that tiny crystalline structures in Mars meteorite ALH84001 were formed by bacteria billions of years ago as the rock was sitting on the Martian surface. A study with Buseck as the first author appears Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Buseck said that NASA-supported researchers claimed in February that crystals found in the meteorite are identical to crystals formed on Earth by bacteria. The material, known as magnetite, is formed by some bacteria that live on the bottom of lakes. The magnetic crystals act as a sort of compass to allow the bacteria to orient themselves as they move along the lake bottom. Buseck said there was inadequate similarity between earthly magnetite and that found in the Mars meteorite to prove that the material was formed by a living organism. "We find that there is much more uncertainty than they seem to believe," said Buseck, referring to the NASA researchers. Everett Gibson, a NASA researcher who was among the group that first proposed that ALH84001 contained evidence of life, said that Buseck has not even looked at the Mars meteorite.

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- posted by Alex @ 20:53 EST