Finding Challenges Assumptions of Mars Meteorite, Planet Formation

The enigmatic Martian asteroid ALH84001, which has been thought by some scientists to contain proof of life on Mars, may prove to be less extraordinary given the results of a recent study involving distant stars. A team of scientists from the University of Amsterdam revealed today in the scientific journal Nature that carbon-based compounds like those inside the Martian asteroid have also been found in two faraway stellar nebulas. Until this discovery, it was thought that all carbonates required liquid-water environments to develop. Now, the carbonates in the meteorite may be inconclusive in proving that liquid water — and therefore a life-giving environment — existed on the Red Planet, say the scientists. The carbonates could likely have come from interstellar locales instead.