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Proceedings Paper

Microfossils in carbonaceous meteorites
Author(s): Richard B. Hoover
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Paper Abstract

Microfossils of large filamentous trichomic prokaryotes have been detected during in-situ investigations of carbonaceous meteorites. This research has been carried out using the Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FESEM) to examine freshly fractured interior surfaces of the meteorites. The images obtained reveal that many of these remains are embedded in the meteorite rock matrix. Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS) studies establish that the filamentous microstructures have elemental compositions consistent with the meteorite matrix, but are often encased within carbon-rich electron transparent sheath-like structures infilled with magnesium sulfate. This is consistent with the taphonomic modes of fossilization of cyanobacteria and sulphur bacteria, since the life habits and processes of these microorganisms frequently result in distinctive chemical biosignatures associated with the properties of their cell-walls, trichomes, and the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of the sheath. In this paper the evidence for biogenicity presented includes detailed morphological and morphometric data consistent with known characteristics of uniseriate and multiseriate cyanobacteria. Evidence for indigeneity includes the embedded nature of the fossils and elemental compositions inconsistent with modern bio-contaminants.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 September 2009
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 7441, Instruments and Methods for Astrobiology and Planetary Missions XII, 744103 (4 September 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.832643
Show Author Affiliations
Richard B. Hoover, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7441:
Instruments and Methods for Astrobiology and Planetary Missions XII
Kurt D. Retherford; Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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