SIGNS OF LIFE IN MARS METEORITE?

BROOKHAVEN X-RAYS HELP SCIENTIST FIND OUT



Remember that Mars meteorite that caused all the fuss last spring because scientists thought it might show signs of tiny, ancient Martian life? Well, a piece of that famous rock recently made its way to Brookhaven National Laboratory, where Physicist George Flynn of SUNY Plattsburgh is helping to check out those claims. Flynn is shown here taking a preliminary look at his thumb-size chunk of the meteorite that NASA calls ALH84001. Of course, the real scientific study is being done not with a magnifying glass, but with powerful X-rays and infrared light at BNL's National Synchrotron Light Source facility. By aiming the X-rays or infrared light at pieces of the meteorite and measuring how it is absorbed by it, Flynn is looking for signs of the organic molecules that NASA scientists say could show that microscopic life existed on the red planet millions of years ago. Brookhaven's X-rays, and equipment built by SUNY Stony Brook, BNL and Northrop Grumman, will give Flynn 1,000 times better detail than the method used by the NASA scientists. His research is one project of dozens around the country aimed at examining this well-known meteorite; all the scientists hope to meet next year to discuss their findings.


BNL Caption 109 11/3/97
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