Extremophile Hunter

Posted on June 3, 2009  Comments (2)

NSF has begun publishing a new web magazine: Science Nation. The inaugural article is Extremophile Hunter

Astrobiologist Richard Hoover really goes to extremes to find living things that thrive where life would seem to be impossible–from the glaciers of the Alaskan Arctic to the ice sheets of Antarctica.

“It may be that when we ultimately get a chance to bring back samples of ice from the polar caps of Mars, we might find biology that looks just like Earth life and it might be that it originated on Earth and was carried to Mars,” said Hoover. “Of course, if it can happen that way, it could have happened the other way. So we may never know the ultimate answer to how did life originate.”

Some of the structures he has imaged from these meteorites are intriguing, bearing striking similarities to bacteria here on Earth. Could these be the fossilized remains of extraterrestial life?

“I am convinced that what I am finding in the carbonaceous meteorites are in many cases biological in nature, and I think they are indigenous and not terrestrial contaminants,” said Hoover.

It is a highly controversial interpretation. “We have for a long time thought that all life, as we know it, originated on Earth. And there isn’t any life anywhere else,” he said. “That’s an idea, it’s a hypothesis, it’s a totally unproven hypothesis.”

Related: TardigradesWhat is an Extremophile?Light-harvesting Bacterium Discovered in Yellowstone

2 Responses to “Extremophile Hunter”

  1. Anonymous
    June 3rd, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

    Wow this is one of the most interesting posts I have read in a very long time. Wouldn’t it be cool if life started on mars because of some microbes that were living on the inside of one of our rovers wandered into a portion of the atmosphere in which those microbes could live!

  2. kadmiel
    June 7th, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    maybe life did not originate on earth it is highly likely that it did not and it was as you say brought here. good review 🙂

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