During Mars’ wet and early past, at least two impacts occurred near the rock, heating the planet’s surrounding surface, before a third impact bounced it off the red planet and into space millions of years ago. The 4lb (2kg) rock was found in Antarctica in 1984. Groundwater moving through the cracks in the rock, while it was still on Mars, formed the tiny globs of carbon that are present, according to the researchers. The same thing can happen on Earth and could help explain the presence of methane in Mars’ atmosphere, they said. But two scientists who took part in the original study took issue with these latest findings, calling them “disappointing.” In a shared email, they said they stand by their 1996 observations. “While the data presented incrementally adds to our knowledge of (the meteorite), the interpretation is hardly novel, nor is it supported by the research,” wrote Kathie Thomas-Keprta and Simon Clemett, astromaterial researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Unsupported speculation does nothing to resolve the conundrum surrounding the origin of organic matter” in the meteorite, they added.
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