Update: Apparently the Journal of Cosmology isn’t a peer-reviewed work and this is not, shall we say rigorous. Review here:
Further Update: Apparently the Journal of Cosmology isn’t going to be around much longer. Why can’t NASA keep the nutters out?
First, this is preliminary. But there is evidence, and it’s not terrible, that prokaryotic organisms, similar to Earth’s bacteria, may have lived inside of some meteorites.
There’s a lot of work to be done and the researchers have invited over 5000 general scientists and 100 specialists to re-examine the work.
The paper was published late Friday by the Journal of Cosmology by Richard B Hoover of NASA/Marshall Spaceflight Center . It is long and very technical. The popular report is here with Yahoo News. The journal paper with data and elemental analysis is here.
Now, again, the report is preliminary, but it appears that there is a fossil of a bacterial sheath, with unusual chemical characteristics. That very well may indicate that it was life.
Stay tuned and I’ll post updates as I hear about them. Feel free to post updates in the comments too.
I’ll read the preliminary paper more thoroughly and see if I can explain it for the non-scientist.
Very, very exciting, but tinged with a heavy dose of skepticism. Exceptional Claims require Exceptional evidence and I think NASA is handling this matter correctly (not like the ‘arsenic based bacteria’ incident). We’ll see.
Update: here’s the conclusion in the author’s words
It is concluded that the complex filaments found embedded in the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites represent the remains of indigenous microfossils of cyanobacteria and other prokaryotes associated with modern and fossil prokaryotic mats. Many of the Ivuna and Orgueil filaments are isodiametric and others tapered, polarized and exhibit clearly differentiated apical and basal cells. These filaments were found in freshly fractured stones and are observed to be attached to the meteorite rock matrix in the manner of terrestrial assemblages of aquatic benthic, epipelic, and epilithic cyanobacterial communities comprised of species that grow on or in mud or clay sediments. Filamentous cyanobacteria similar in size and detailed morphology with basal heterocysts are well known in benthic cyanobacterial mats, where they attach the filament to the sediment at the interface between the liquid water and the substratum. The size, size range and complex morphological features and characteristics exhibited by these filaments render them recognizable as representatives of the filamentous Cyanobacteriaceae and associated trichomic prokaryotes commonly encountered in cyanobacterial mats. Therefore, the well-preserved mineralized trichomic filaments with carbonaceous sheaths found embedded in freshly fractured interior surfaces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorites are interpreted as the fossilized remains of prokaryotic microorganisms that grew in liquid regimes on the parent body of the meteorites before they entered the Earth’s atmosphere.