Fox News and the Daily Mail have reported that a NASA scientist believes that we are not alone in the universe and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.
Dr. Richard B. Hoover — an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center — has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying an extremely rare class of meteorites — CI1 carbonaceous chondrites — only nine such are known to exist on Earth.
Hoover is convinced that his findings reveal fossil evidence of bacterial life within such meteorites, the remains of living organisms from their parent bodies — comets, moons and other astral bodies. By extension, the findings suggest we are not alone in the universe and that life may well hail from OUT OF THIS WORLD:
“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.”
A scanning-electron microscope and a field emission electron-scanning microscope, which allowed him to search the stone’s surface for evidence of fossilized remains. What he found were the fossilized remains of micro-organisms not so different from ordinary ones found here on earth such as Titanospirillum velox:
“The exciting thing is that they are in many cases recognizable and can be associated very closely with the generic species here on earth. There are some that are just very strange and don’t look like anything that I’ve been able to identify, and I’ve shown them to many other experts that have also come up stumped.”
Other scientists have observed that the implications of this research are shocking, describing the findings variously as profound, very important and extraordinary. But Dr. David Marais, an astrobiologist with NASA’s AMES Research Center, says he’s very cautious about jumping onto the bandwagon:
“It’s an extraordinary claim, and thus I’ll need extraordinary evidence.”
Knowing that the study will be controversial, the journal invited members of the scientific community to analyze the results and to write critical commentaries ahead of time. Though none are online yet, those comments will be posted alongside the article, said Dr. Rudy Schild, a scientist with the Harvard-Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cosmology:
“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.”
Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, said there is a lot of hesitancy to believe such proclamations. If true, the implications would be far-reaching throughout the fields of science and astronomy, the suggestions and possibilities stunning. Shostak speculated:
“Maybe life was seeded on earth — it developed on comets for example, and just landed here when these things were hitting the very early Earth. It would suggest, well, life didn’t really begin on the Earth, it began as the solar system was forming.”
Accoding to Hoover, hesitancy to believe new claims is something common and necessary to the field of science:
“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 many scientists that will be very skeptical and that’s OK.”
Hoover’s groundbreaking revelations will be released in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.