Magnetite morphology and life on Mars

P R Buseck, Rafal E. Dunin-Borkowski, Bertrand Devouard, Richard B. Frankel, Martha McCartney, Paul A. Midgley, Mihály Pósfai, Matthew Weyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

107 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nanocrystals of magnetite (Fe3O4) in a meteorite from Mars provide the strongest, albeit controversial, evidence for the former presence of extraterrestrial life. The morphological and size resemblance of the crystals from meteorite ALH84001 to crystals formed by certain terrestrial bacteria has been used in support of the biological origin of the extraterrestrial minerals. By using tomographic and holographic methods in a transmission electron microscope, we show that the three-dimensional shapes of such nanocrystals can be defined, that the detailed morphologies of individual crystals from three bacterial strains differ, and that none uniquely match those reported from the Martian meteorite. In contrast to previous accounts, we argue that the existing crystallographic and morphological evidence is inadequate to support the inference of former life on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13490-13495
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume98
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2001

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Meteoroids
Ferrosoferric Oxide
Mars
Nanoparticles
Exobiology
Minerals
Electrons
Bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

Cite this

Magnetite morphology and life on Mars. / Buseck, P R; Dunin-Borkowski, Rafal E.; Devouard, Bertrand; Frankel, Richard B.; McCartney, Martha; Midgley, Paul A.; Pósfai, Mihály; Weyland, Matthew.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 98, No. 24, 20.11.2001, p. 13490-13495.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Buseck, PR, Dunin-Borkowski, RE, Devouard, B, Frankel, RB, McCartney, M, Midgley, PA, Pósfai, M & Weyland, M 2001, 'Magnetite morphology and life on Mars', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 98, no. 24, pp. 13490-13495. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.241387898
Buseck, P R ; Dunin-Borkowski, Rafal E. ; Devouard, Bertrand ; Frankel, Richard B. ; McCartney, Martha ; Midgley, Paul A. ; Pósfai, Mihály ; Weyland, Matthew. / Magnetite morphology and life on Mars. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2001 ; Vol. 98, No. 24. pp. 13490-13495.
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