15 Years since NASA claimed martian life in ALH84001

15 Years since NASA claimed signs of martian life in ALH84001

President Bill Clinton made a speech to make the discovery of signs of life in this martian meteorite.  David McKay’s paper in Science in 1996 became one of the most heavily cited in planetary science.  Pundits like to dismiss the discovery as “controversial” (eg. in recent New Scientist and BBC Focus).

What an unscientific way of dismissing evidence they find uncomfortable!

Of course such a claim was “controversial”!  Extraordinary claims require an extraordinary level of proof.  The claim stimulated a lot of further research and host of arguments and counter-hypotheses.  What the pundits now should consider is the outcome.

The authors responded with an extended review in2009:  David S. McKay, Kathie L. Thomas-Keprta, Simon J. Clemett, Everett K. Gibson, Jr.  Life on Mars: New Evidence from Martian Meteorites. [Proceedings of SPIE 7441, 744102 (2009)].

High time our lazy pundits recognised the scientific process and gave due recognition to this work – and to astrobiology as serious science.

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