A spaced-out theory that claimed evidence of Martian life may have been debunked by scientists after a decades-long debate that alienated some skeptical researchers.
A 4-billion-year-old Martian meteorite found in Antarctica in the 1980s was said to contain evidence of ancient living things on the Red Planet but experts announced Thursday they had confirmed it showed no signs of extraterrestrial life.
A NASA-led team of researchers suggested in 1996 that the gray-green space rock appeared to have organic compounds left behind from living organisms, which was doubted by many scientists at the time and prompted decades of further research.
A team from the Carnegie Institution for Science, led by Andrew Steele, said in a study published in the journal Science that the compounds were not the result of living creatures, but by salty groundwater water flowing over the rocks for a long period of time.
The hunks of carbon compound on the rock were determined to have been from water while it was still on Mars’ surface. Researchers said that a similar process occurs with rocks on Earth, and could explain the presence of methane on Mars.