Canada| The fragments of meteorite recovered last week by a team of canadian NASA physicians from Western University, in a frozen field near St-Thomas in Ontario, has turned out to contain some living microorganisms. If the discovery is confirmed, these microscopic lifeforms would become the first extraterrestrial organisms to be encountered alive by human scientists.
Peter Brown, Director of Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX), who specializes in the study of meteors and meteorites, says that on the evening of the 18th of March, a long-lasting fireball which occurred near 10:24 p.m. was detected by seven of the all-sky cameras of Western’s Southern Ontario Meteor Network (SOMN). Two camera systems in Ohio and Pennsylvania jointly operated with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office also captured images of the object.
Brown along with Phil McCausland, an Assistant Professor and Meteorite Curator at Western’s Department of Earth Sciences, have been able to recover fragments of the meteorite thanks to the help of the public. They have been analyzing the object for barely a week, but they have already been capable of gathering many samples of the unidentified lifeforms.
“We had noticed that the mineral fragment seemed to be covered with microscopic grooves and believed we could have found traces of some now extinct lifeforms, like those already discovered on Mars” explains Mr McCausland. “We were extatic when we noticed that many of the organisms were still alive! We were able to collect a few hundreds which we should now be able to study more thoroughly. Of course, this is the kind of discovery which we do not intend to keep for ourselves. Scientists of many different expertises and from all over the world have already manifested their interest in participating in the research. I think it could be years before we learn everything we can from those microorganisms.”
The general director of NASA, Charles F. Bolden, saluted the discovery and praised the canadian university for it’s exceptional contribution to the world’s astrological knowledge. He added that many NASA experts were to take part in the study of these lifeforms.