Mars Crock

Edward R.D. Scott, Akira Yamaguchi, and Alexander N. Krot
Nature 1997;387:377

Last year, the world was rocked by scientists who claimed they found evidence of life on Mars. The claim wasn't all that solid to start with, but now it's starting to vaporize.

The scientists claimed carbonate globules on a meteorite of martian origin were associated with organic and inorganic structures interpreted as fossil remains of ancient life on Mars. A key assumption was the carbonates formed from low temperature fluids penetrating the cracks and voids of the host rock.

But assumptions aren't facts — especially with junk science.

Based on petrological study of the rock, Scott et al. say the carbonates could not have formed at low temperature as originally claimed. Instead the carbonates probably formed during "shock melting" — a high pressure, high temperature event. Without low temperature-formation, it's unlikely the carbonates formed biogenically.

At the time, the excitement surrounding the possibility of life on Mars was used (shamelessly) to boost the sagging fortunes of the aimless U.S. space program. But don't despair NASA. Maybe instead of sending just a probe to Mars, we can send the entire space program.

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