COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | What'sNEW - Later - Earlier - Index | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved

What'sNEW Archives, April - June 1998

microbes in ice 1998, June 26: A team of biologists, engineers and a space scientist has discovered microbial life where it shouldn't be — 2 meters deep inside permanent ice in an Antarctic desert. The habitat in the Antarctic lake ice may serve as a model for life on Mars and Europa. Although Mars may have had extensive liquid water at one time, it rapidly cooled, and ice would have become, as it is today, the dominant form of water on the surface.... On Europa, surface ice appears to exist in contact with subsurface liquid water.... Solar heating of the subsurface could result in melt layers similar to those we describe here.

Priscu, John C.; Christian H. Fritsen; Edward E. Adams; Stephen J. Giovannoni; Hans W. Paerl; Christopher P. McKay; Peter T. Doran; Douglas A. Gordon; Brian D. Lanoil and James L. Pinckney. "Perennial Antarctic Lake Ice: An Oasis for Life in a Polar Desert" p 2095-2098 v 280 Science. 26 June 1998.
Psenner, Roland and Birgit Sattler. "Life at the Freezing Point" p 2073-2074 v 280 Science. 26 June 1998.
Clinging to Life in Antarctic Ice on ScienceNOW. 25 June 1998 06:00 PM. (Subscription required)
Antarctic microbes boost quest for life on MSNBC by Robert Bazell and Associated Press. 26 June 1998.
Life In Antarctic Ice May Compare To Mars by David Stauth, on EurekAlert, 25 June 1998 at 16:00:00 ET US.
Algae may mean life possible elsewhere by Michael Kahn on Yahoo! News. June 25 11:32 PM EDT.
Bacteria: The Space Colonists is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.
Life on Mars! is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

small comet seasonality 1998, May 30: An apparent seasonality strengthens the case for the small comets. An analysis of "atmospheric holes" produced by small comets in images of the Earth taken by a camera aboard NASA's Polar spacecraft shows a remarkable seasonal variation. Two physicists at the University of Iowa, Louis A. Frank and John B. Sigwarth, have found that the influx of small comets into the Earth's atmosphere is 10 times greater in early November than in mid-January, when the small comet rate diminishes dramatically.... Frank regards this new analysis a fatal blow to the continuing claims of critics that atmospheric holes are nothing but "instrument noise."

Meanwhile, opponents of the theory continue to state their objections. The latest is that the comets would leave much more water in the upper atmosphere than can be detected.

Evidence of Small Comet "Storms" Confirmed by NASA's Polar Spacecraft, presented at the Spring 1998 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Baltimore, MD, May 26, 1998.
Space Balls Theory Debated, by Paul Recer, Associated Press, Washington, May 11, 1998. Carried by
Instrument Errors May Explain Away Small Comets, SpaceViews, 27 May 1998.
NASA Sees Comets Entering Atmosphere is the related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

pond on Mars 1998, May 27: Mars Orbiter Camera shows probable seepage and ponding within a southern hemisphere crater. Despite evidence of catastrophic floods and integrated valley networks on Mars, unequivocal evidence of ponding has been difficult, if not impossible, to find. MOC image 7707 shows what, at first examination, appears to be such evidence. There are two striking geomorphic attributes of the crater shown in the image: 1. The crater wall shows channeling suggestive of fluid seepage. 2. The contact (i.e., the boundary between two types of geologic materials) between the dark floor materials and the lighter materials of the crater wall suggests, by the formation of bays and peninsulas, a ponding relationship.

Mars Global Surveyor MOC2-49 AGU-Press Conf. with a link to 1M image (gif).
Mars Global Surveyor - Welcome to Mars!
MGS Finds New Evidence of Watery Past on Mars, SpaceViews, 27 May 1998.
A Martian Lake Bed? — another former martian lake from Astronomy Picture of the Day, 11 December 1997.
Life on Mars! is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

hematite on Mars 1998, May 27: Coarse-grained hematite deposits on Mars were most likely created by hydrothermal vents or evaporated seas. The Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor mission has discovered a remarkable accumulation of the mineral hematite that covers an area approximately five hundred kilometers (~300 miles) in size.... The TES results provide the first evidence that suggests a large-scale hydrothermal system may have operated beneath the Martian surface at some time during the planet's history. Even more intriguing is the possibility that the hematite may have initially precipitated from a large body of water. Thanks again, Barry DiGregorio.

NASA MGS TES Press Release, May 27, 1998
Thermal Emission Spectrometer Project Homepage
Hematite Cache Bolsters Life Theories from, Boston, May 27, 1998.
NASA press release 98-90 on hematite, polar caps, and atmospheric bulges on Mars. 27 May 1998.
Life on Mars! is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

1998, April 30: Another molecular analysis dates genes as older than the corresponding fossils. In Nature, two molecular geneticists at Pennsylvania State University report the analysis of 658 nuclear genes — far more than similar previous tests comparing the ages of the genes as estimated by molecular dating to the ages indicated in the fossil record. They conclude, "Overall, fossil-based and molecular times are in relatively close agreement... except for the origin of placental orders and the early history of rodents. The average difference... for mesozoic comparisons is large (30%)." Subsequently, Science comments, "The new report is the latest of several molecular studies to suggest that many animal lineages are older than the fossil record shows." The preferred mainstream response is that molecular clocks are unreliable — but why would the faulty ones always run fast? An alternate response from mainstream biology is typified by paleontologist Michael Benton: "It suggests that the fossil record is horribly incomplete." Cosmic Ancestry, on the other hand, finds confirmation here, because, in this theory, genes must be present in genomes before they are expressed — possibly even long before.

Kumar, Sudhir and S. Blair Hedges. "A molecular timescale for vertebrate evolution" p 917-920 v 392 Nature. 30 April 1998.
Gibbons, Ann. "Genes Put Mammals in Age of Dinosaurs" p 675-676 v 280 Science. 1 May 1998.
Cooper, Alan and David Penny. "Mass Survival of Birds Across the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary: Molecular Evidence" p 1109-1113 v 275 Science. 21 February 1997.
Gene Study Shows Mammals Lived Before Extinction Of The Dinosaurs by Barbara K. Kennedy on EurekAlert!, 29 April 1998.
Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

Integron fragment 1998, April 24: Versatile Gene Uptake System Found in Cholera Bacterium may capture many different types of genes. The same process was already known to install genes for antibiotic resistance — now it appears to install other types of genes as well. "What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg," predicts Hatch Stokes, who first documented the "integron" system in 1993. As the horizontal transfer of genes is required in Cosmic Ancestry, mechanisms that enable such transfer can be considered as predictions of the theory.

Mazel, Didier; Broderick Dychinco; Vera A. Webb and Julian Davies. "A Distinctive Class of Integron in the Vibrio cholerae Genome" p 605-608 v 280 Science. 24 April 1998.
Pennisi, Elizabeth. "Versatile Gene Uptake System Found in Cholera Bacterium" p 521-522 v 280 Science. 24 April 1998.
Viruses... is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage. [Next-What'sNEW about HGT-Prev]

Tatahouine fossils 1998, April 18: Pieces of a meteorite that were buried beneath the hot sands of northern Africa and contaminated with Earth minerals may strengthen the claim that another space rock carries evidence of ancient life on Mars. Some samples of the Tatahouine meteorite were collected the day it fell, June 27, 1931, and sent to a Paris Museum. Other samples were collected in 1994. The latter contain carbonate forms very similar to the forms seen in ALH 84001 from Mars (and known from isotopic compsition to be martian). While analysis of the Tatahouine fossils shows that bacteria could be responsible, it rules out several nonbiological causes previously proposed for the forms in ALH84001. The study is ongoing. Thanks, Barry DiGregorio, for alerting us.

Meteorites and claims of Martian life by Sid Perkins, UPI Science News, April 16 5:47 PM EDT. Carried by Yahoo! (This link goes to a search page. "Mars" will lead to the story, until it expires.)
Barrat, J. A.; Ph. Gillet; C. Lcuyer; S. M. F. Sheppard and M. Lesourd. "Formation of Carbonates in the Tatahouine Meteorite" p 412-414 v 280 Science. 17 April 1998.
Life on Mars! is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

The fossil shape 1998, April 11: Researchers at Glasgow University say a huge rock formation on Mars's surface is probably a giant fossil created billions of year ago by microbes. The Glasgow team believes that photographs of the fossil on the white rock - a 17km-wide feature in a giant crater - are the strongest proof to date of life on the red planet. Thanks to Barry DiGregorio for bringing this story to our attention.

Life on Mars (again), BBC News | Sci/Tech | 11 April 1998.
Martian crater lake may have harboured life, The University of Glasgow, 23 August 1999.
ET was here, by Lou Bergeron, New Scientist, 4 September 1999.
Life on Mars! is a related Cosmic Ancestry webpage.

ESA's ISO 1998, April 7: Water vapour on Titan discovered by the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory: A further link to the investigation of the origin of life is the apparent detection of water vapour in the mysterious atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. A preliminary announcement comes from an international team headed by Athena Coustenis of Paris Observatory and Alberto Salama of the ISO Science Operations Center at Villafranca.... Particularly striking for the human imagination are ISO's repeated discoveries of water in the deserts of space. They encourage expectations of life elsewhere in the Universe. Water has turned up around dying stars, newborn stars, in the general interstellar medium, in the atmospheres of the outer planets and in other galaxies too.

New water and remote galaxies complete ISO's observations, European Space Agency Information Note 09-98 - Paris, 7 April 1998.
Has Titan got answers to life in space?, BBC News, 17:39 GMT, April 7, 1998.
European observatory sees water in curious places, CNN Interactive - London, 7 April 1998.
Water Found on Saturn Moon,, by Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press - London, 7 April 1998.
Life on Europa... has links to WhatsNEW on Jupiter's and other moons.

NASA 1998, April 1: Ames Tackles the Riddle of Life: Researchers eagerly await the opening of the Astrobiology Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center next month [April]. Its ambitious agenda includes creating a new field of science. The new discipline, according to a recent lead article in Science, is "the study of how life might arise across the universe." Clearly this development is a small step towards the Cosmic Ancestry paradigm. However, heavy bureaucracy and politics have already plagued the project. Even the term — astrobiology? exobiology? bioastronomy? — was problematic. And there is a curious insistence that grant recipients in the program must help demonstrate the use of special new Internet technology. But promisingly, NASA has unofficially expressed willingness to look again at the Viking evidence for life on Mars, and evidence of fossils in carbonaceous chondrites like Murchison. Maybe some good will come of it. In the first round NASA received about twice as many grant proposals as it expected. Meanwhile:

Origins logoNASA's Origins Program will search for clues to help us find our cosmic roots.... The JPL program will investigate the origin of galaxies, planetary systems and life on Earth using the newest telescopes. The relationship between the two programs, if any, is not clear.

Lawler, Andrew. "Ames Tackles the Riddle of Life" p 1840-1841 v 279 Science. 20 March 1998.
NASA Astrobiology Institute
Ames Research Center, Astrobiology Office
NASA's Origins Program: the Origins website from JPL.

COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | What'sNEW - Later - Earlier - Index | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved