A “disappointing” study reveals the falsity of organic compounds in the Martian meteorite to be of biological origin | Science

The ALH 84001 meteorite has been a topic of debate since it arrived on Earth. After all, the first research team that worked with the Martian meteorite thought it provided evidence of past life. Other researchers have long disproved this. The research team from Andrew Steele (Carnegie Institution for Science) also found that organic compounds do not have a biological origin, but are the result of an interaction between water and rocks.

Allan Hills 84001, a meteorite up to four billion years old and weighing about 2 kilograms, landed on Earth several decades ago. It was discovered in Antarctica in 1984. The meteorite completed a long journey and came from Mars, according to research by NASA. ALH 84001 quickly became world famous because in 1996 a NASA research team described it as “evidence of extraterrestrial life.”

Over the next few years, more and more skeptical scientists, who were not involved in the initial research, came up with theories that disproved “the evidence for extraterrestrial life.” The latest study published in Professional magazine “Science”He seems to be ignoring this evidence from the table.

salty water

It goes like this: Originally it was thought that the carbon-rich compounds in the meteorite must indicate past life. However, according to current research, these connections are the result of water – possibly salt water – flowing through a patch of rock on Mars for a long time. As a result, the geochemical process of meandering occurred, in which igneous rocks rich in iron or magnesium enter into chemical reactions with circulating water.

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After all, before the boulder turned into a meteorite, three impacts occurred nearby. The first two factors caused the rocks to collapse slightly, allowing water to work its way up. In the third collision, the 2-kg piece of rock was finally released, and eventually landed on the ground.

The surface of Mars. © Environmental Protection Agency


Katie Thomas Kiberta and Simon Klimt, two NASA astronomers involved in the initial study of the meteor, were disappointed with Andrew Steele’s findings. “While new data gradually contributes to our understanding of the meteorite, speculation does not solve the mystery surrounding the origin of the organic matter.”

Steele, in turn, praises the NASA team’s original findings, noting that the prior life hypothesis was a “reasonable explanation” at the time (80s, ed.). But the technologies have since been improved and are of great importance to “our understanding of the Red Planet”.


According to Steele, the real evidence of life on Mars lies in samples brought directly from Mars to Earth. Perseverance, NASA’s Mars probe, is currently working on it. Six samples have already been collected that will be sent back to Earth within ten years.

Persevere, the Mars robot is currently collecting samples from the Red Planet.
Persevere, the Mars robot is currently collecting samples from the Red Planet. © Environmental Protection Agency

Megan Vasquez

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