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Doubt Cast On Martian Life Theory

 AUFORA News Update
 Sunday, December 22nd, 1996      
      from CNN
 NEW YORK (CNN) -- Independent tests have cast doubt over earlier studies
 that detected possible signs of past life on a Martian meteorite,
 according to an article in Sunday's New York Times.
 Results of one study appeared to invalidate three of four lines of
 evidence scientists said in August were signs of microorganisms, and
 another study raised doubts about the fourth line of evidence.
 Dr. David McKay and Dr. Everett Gibson Jr. of the Johnson Space Center
 in Houston reported on studies they led that concluded a meteorite,
 found in Antarctica and believed to come from Mars, contained evidence
 of nanobacteria.
 Their studies, they said, found evidence of carbonate globules that may
 indicate water, deposits of minerals that have in some cases been
 produced by bacteria, structures that resemble bacterial fossils on
 Earth, and rock compounds that often have biological origins.
 Scientists who worked on the latest studies were almost apologetic about
 their findings, and stressed that their findings did not conclusively
 rule out the possibility of life on Mars.
 The new studies indicated that some of the signs taken to indicate
 possible life could have come from contaminates on the Antarctic ice.
 "There is nothing else in this rock that looks like nanofossils, and the
 things that look like nanofossils aren't," said Dr. Harry McSween Jr. of
 the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
 McKay said that his team disagreed with the new interpretation.
 "We're basically not worried by all this," he said. "For one reason, we
 don't think they're looking at the same places in the meteorite."
 McKay added that his team was preparing reports on further examination
 of the rock and would be presenting the findings in two to three months.
 When the findings were originally reported, the scientists stressed that
 none of the four lines of evidence proved the existence of past life,
 but that all four taken together make a compelling case for microbial
 life on Mars.
 The report of the new studies -- by McSween, Dr. Ralph Harvey of Case
 Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Dr. John Bradley, a
 geochemist and executive director of MVA Inc., a company in Norcross,
 Georgia, that specializes in the microscopic analysis of materials --
 appeared in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, an international journal of
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