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Terrestrial Titanospirillum velox along-side its purportedly alien look-alike.  (Source: Riccardo Guerrero / Richard B. Hoover / Journal of Cosmology)

Another close-up of the possible "alien".  (Source: Riccardo Guerrero / Richard B. Hoover / Journal of Cosmology)
Astrobiologist shattered meteorite, reports finding fossilized microbe E.T.s inside

An astrobiologist working at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center outside Huntsville, Alabama has made an astounding claim.  In a recently published journal article, he claims to have discovered a preserved alien life form residing inside a meteor that journeyed through the vast black of space before impact our planet.

This extra-terrestrial may not be a bulbous-headed humanoid like in the movies, but it may offer up an answer to one of mankind's greatest inquiries -- are we alone in the universe?

The researcher, Dr. Richard B. Hoover [profile], had to go to extraordinary lengths to make his discovery.  He reasoned that if alien microbes were to hitch a ride on a meteorite, they would likely have to do so in a special meteor.  

Specifically, he zeroed in on the CI class of carbonaceous chrondite meteors.   These meteors are rich in water, amino acids, and other organic compounds -- seemingly a virtual pantry for a microorganism.  

Picking the most ideal type of CI meteorite -- CI1 optimized his chances, but narrowed his pool of available specimens.  In total only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth.

After going to great lengths to obtain one of these meteorites, he destroyed a piece of it, smashing it apart.  Using scanning-electron microscopes and field emissions electron-scanning microscopes he images the result dust and fragments and made the extraordinary discovery he was hoping for -- what appears to be a fossilized bacteria.

The identified specimen appears remarkably similar to the bacteria Titanospirillum velox, a sulfur-loving archaebacteria, which was discovered in 1999 mud samples from Spain.

The meteorite was reportedly broken under carefully controlled sterile conditions.  Now the only unknown is whether the meteorite could have somehow been contaminated.  The meteors were sterilely harvested in the frigid reaches of Antarctica immediately after their observed fall.  The fact that they were collected so quickly limits the possibility that indigenous microbes contaminated them.  The possibility of atmospheric contamination still remains, though.

Dr. Hoover believes that this is not a case of contamination.  He is convinced that he has become the first human to record a scientifically verifiable encounter with an alien being.  He states in a recent interview, "I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet Earth. This field of study has just barely been touched -- because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible."

The discovery has been met with a great deal of skepticism, but also fascination.  Dr. Hoover writes in a note to the editor's note accompanying his study, "Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis. No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough vetting, and never before in the history of science has the scientific community been given the opportunity to critically analyze an important research paper before it is published."

With the paper currently peer-reviewed and published [abstract] in the Journal of Cosmology, Dr. Hoover's discovery will face its next critical test, with the collected materials being examined by a second research team for verification and validation.

Dr. David Marais, an astrobiologist at NASA's AMES Research Center states, "It’s an extraordinary claim, and thus I’ll need extraordinary evidence."

Dr. Hoover is confident his discovery will be validated.  He comments, "A lot of times it takes a long time before scientists start changing their mind as to what is valid and what is not. I’m sure there will be many scientists that will be very skeptical and that’s OK."

"If someone can explain how it is possible to have a biological remain that has no nitrogen, or nitrogen below the detect ability limits that I have, in a time period as short as 150 years, then I would be very interested in hearing that. I’ve talked with many scientists about this and no one has been able to explain."

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RE: Ugh...
By MrBlastman on 3/7/2011 11:22:51 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the abstract that has been published does mention that these meteors were observed in a downward trajectory and then collected after impacting. So, that implies that at least from historical records, as far as he can tell someone saw them coming from space (with a fire-trail) and hitting the ground. Of course, these things hit over 150 years ago (a couple of them almost) so there's no way to go and ask the people that found them.

RE: Ugh...
By Iaiken on 3/7/2011 12:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the abstract that has been published does mention that these meteors were observed in a downward trajectory and then collected after impacting.

I think I was misunderstood.

There have been documented cases of large surface impacts on Mars where debris ejected from the surface was able to escape the planets gravity, travel all the way to earth and survive our atmosphere. The bacteria so found are fossilized, which means that they have been dead for many tens of thousands of years. We know there have been similarly massive impacts here on Earth.

It is just as probable, however unlikely, that this rock was ejected from Earth in the past and eventually made it's way back as it is to have been ejected from an other celestial body and traveled to Earth. As such, the possibility cannot be ruled out until the origin of the rock has been concretely proven.

RE: Ugh...
By MrBlastman on 3/7/2011 1:29:00 PM , Rating: 3
I really, highly doubt that an object was able to be blasted with enough force out of Earth's atmosphere and into space due to an impact. I mean, theoretically, it might be possible but, you must understand, Mars' gravity is only 1/3 Earth's. That means that on Mars you need an escape velocity of around 5 km/s and on Earth, 11.2 km/s. That is _quite_ a bit more energy required to acheive that.

I'm not saying it is impossible, just implying it is improbable. Also, it would have to be a fairly large object ejected as the atmosphere would consume a large part of it upon re-entry.

But, as you mention, origin is completely important if they want to absolutely back the discoverer's claims.

RE: Ugh...
By Motoman on 3/7/2011 2:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
...other than the moon, you mean ;)

RE: Ugh...
By MrBlastman on 3/7/2011 2:41:22 PM , Rating: 3
The moon is a completely different story than an asteroid impact and is _still_ up to quite a bit of scientific debate.

IF the moon did in fact, come from Earth, then most probably it would have occured when the Earth was still forming either during the accretion-disk phase or just after the accretion-disk phase. At that time, if there were an impact, it would not have completely fractured the earth like it would now--a mighty catostrophic event.

Also, if you even consider the theory of the Moon coming from the Earth, you should ask yourself--why is it not nearly as dense as our planet and, more importantly, why is the core only three percent of the Moon's mass, while the Earth's Iron core is thirty percent its mass? Why is the Moon devoid of iron and other rarer elements that are on Earth as well?

I'm not saying it isn't possible, I'm just saying that the odds of it all are further apart than you think, and, if it did happen, is far more complex than pointing at a spot on a map and saying: "The moon came from here." The moon is spherical, after all.

So really, we don't know for sure yet where it came, hence why there are at least three prevalent and debated theories within the scientific community on it, all of which, are different.

RE: Ugh...
By melgross on 3/7/2011 1:43:44 PM , Rating: 4
No. This type of meteorite comes from the early formation of the solar system. It was never a part of any planet. This is well understood. There is no debate over this.

The only question is the one about possible contamination. Normally, only the outer few centimeters of meteorite is possibly contaminated. Sometimes, if it's been left for a long time, more. But considering where it was found, biological activity is very low under those conditions, and so local contamination is much less likely.

But to eliminate this possibility, slices are taken from as far into the interior of the specimen as possible.

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