NASA man ‘finds aliens in meteorites’

A NASA astrobiologist has caused a stir by claiming to have found evidence of alien life from space in meteorites that fell to Earth. Dr Richard Hoover says he found microscopic fossils in not one but three asteroid fragments that are among the oldest in the solar system.

Image of fossils in the Orgueil meteorite (Journal of Cosmology)

He concludes that they are the remains of life that existed in deep space on the cosmic bodies that produced the meteorites in the first place.

Dr Hoover, of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has made a similar claim in the past. But critics claimed the bacteria-like fossils were contamination introduced after the meteorite landed.

However in his latest research paper, Dr Hoover counters that he has found his evidence in freshly sliced fragments from the meteorite which could not have been affected by any contaminents.

The claims are made in a paper published online on a website of the Journal of Cosmology which has become famous for going boldly where others do not dare. It is fair to say that the journal has attracted a few skeptics.

However, a keen supporter is Chandra Wickramasinghe, director of the Astrobiology Centre at Cardiff University, who has spent his life trying to show that life on Earth was seeded from space.

Dr Hoover’s astonishing assertion is that he has found microfossils similar to Cyanobacteria, in freshly broken pieces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 meteorites.

They are a type of meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites and are thought to be fragments from the asteroid belt.

This is a zone of rocks orbiting the Sun which was once thought to be the remains of a planet that broke up but which astronomers now think never came together to form a planet in the first place.

Using electron microscopes and other techniques, Dr Hoover has concluded that his fossils are the remains of living organisms that lived in the meteorites’ parent bodies.

He concludes that they show that life is everywhere and that similar meteorites or comets may be what brought life to Earth.

The news follows similar claims from NASA scientists that they had found evidence of fossilized microbes in meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars. There has been a fierce debate over whether the fossils are true Martians or something introduced after the stones fell to Earth.

Of his own claims, Dr Hoover said: “Although many of the bacteria resemble and can be associated with generic species on Earth, there are others which are completely alien. Neither I, nor other experts who have seen the evidence, have any idea what these creatures might be.”

“I believe these findings indicate that life is not restricted to Earth, but is broadly distributed, even outside our solar system.”

According to a press release from the journal, Dr Wickramasinghe said: “Dr Hoover has provided the world with decisive evidence that we are all aliens. Life is a truly cosmic phenomenon.”

“We believe Dr Hoover’s evidence, coupled with other findings and recent genetic studies, indicates life has a genetic ancestry which leads over 10 billion years back in time. Some of these life forms were delivered to Earth, in comets.”

Dr Rudy Schild, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cosmology, said: “We believe Dr Hoover’s careful analysis provides definitive evidence of ancient microbial life on astral bodies some of which may predate the origin of Earth and this solar system.”

He added: “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.”

One thing is certain. They will be be queuing up to do so.

Postscript: Here is one early analysis of the paper that rather rips the discovery to shreds.

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