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Proceedings Paper

Analysis of fossil organic nanostructures: terrestrial and extraterrestrial
Author(s): Hans D. Pflug; Bettina Heinz
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Paper Abstract

A review is presented of the currently available evidence of life in the Precambrian, with special reference to ultrafine morphologies of the size range 0.1 - 3 micrometers . The particles are to be found under high apertures of the light microscope in thin sections of the rock and have been examined in demineralized thick sections under the transmission electron microscope (TEM). They have been chemically analyzed in microprobes and spectrophotometer microscopes. On the basis of such studies, the interaction of microorganisms with the formation of minerals can be traced back to early Archean times, 3800 million years ago. There is no evidence for or against the assumption that some kind of prebiotic evolution took place in the recorded history of the Earth. The origin of life is open to alternative explanations, including extraterrestrial phenomena. More information may be obtained from meteorites. Under high magnifications of the TEM, portions of the carbonaceous matter in the Murchison, Orgueil and Allende meteorites appear to be structured. Particles of various morphology can be distinguished. Microprobe techniques have been applied to confirm that the structures are organic and indigenous to the rock. The origin of the finds is not discussed in the present paper.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 July 1997
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 3111, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for the Investigation of Extraterrestrial Microorganisms, (11 July 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.278814
Show Author Affiliations
Hans D. Pflug, Univ. Giessen (Germany)
Bettina Heinz, California State Univ./San Marcos and Palomar College (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3111:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for the Investigation of Extraterrestrial Microorganisms
Richard B. Hoover, Editor(s)

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