SPACE LIFE in METEORITES?
On Friday, March 22 Alexei Rozanov, a corresponding member
of the Russian Academy of Science, delivered a talk on space
microorganism traces possibly found in meteorites. Everybody
remember the "Science" hit, the paper of American
astrophysicists on microorganisms which are likely to have
been found in "Martian" meteorites discovered in Antarctic.
It was about strange oblong structures, some tens of
nanometres in size. This paper, on the one hand, initiated
American administrators in investments into the projects
researching Mars and, on the other hand, was criticized
vigorously by colleagues. First, nobody could justify those
meteorites having arrived from Mars, second, they were
too small to infer conclusions about them. Nearly at the
same time Rozanov's team had an article being under inquiry
in the editorial board of "Geohimia" (Geochemistry) magazine
(Zhmur S.I., Rozanov A.Yu., Gorlenko V.M., Litified remnants
of microorganisms in carbonaceous hondrites, Geohimia, 1997,
V.1b, pp.66-68 (in Russian)). The paper told about
discovering "gigantic" (compared with American ones) bacteria
fossils in carbonaceous hondrites.
The story with microorganisms in meteorites is likely to have begun
much earlier than it was mentioned in the review by Rozanov's team
(reprinted here from the "Paleontologia" magazine (in Russian)). Early
researchers, however, did not apply but poor microscopes and chemical
methods while investigating them. It is for the first time that
Rozanov's team applied powerful electronic microscopes for the inquiry
and discovered strange bacteria-like formations similar to those you
can see in the picture ("Yefremovka" meteorite).
I can hardly ever judge how reliable are identifications of these
structures with bacteria. I think, professional geochemists and
biologists can do it better. Nonthelees, the number and size of "life"
traces found in meteorites are strikingly impressive. Now Alexei
Rozanov is working in tight collaboration with his NASA colleagues.
Review "Physical Phenomena in the Heavens"
by Prof. V.M.Lipunov