07 março, 2011

Notícia sobre exobiologia e possíveis fósseis em meteoritos

Cientista garante ter encontrado sinais de vida microscópica em três meteoritos

Esta descoberta controversa sugere que a vida na Terra pode ter vindo de outros pontos do sistema solar

Um cientista da NASA (agência espacial norte-americana) revela ter encontrado minúsculas bactérias fossilizadas em três meteoritos e garante que estas microscópicas formas de vida não são originárias da Terra.

A confirmar-se, esta descoberta pode sugerir que há vida espalhada no universo e que a vida na Terra pode ter vindo de outros pontos do sistema solar através de cometas, por exemplo.

O estudo, publicado sexta-feira na revista “The Journal of Cosmology”, é considerado tão controverso que é acompanhado por uma declaração do editor da revista que procura comentários científicos ao artigo, para serem publicados a partir de hoje.

No artigo, o astrobiólogo Richard Hoover defende que existem provas de microfósseis semelhantes a cianobactérias na superfície de três meteoritos. Estas estruturas microscópicas continham grandes quantidades de carbono, sinal de vida na Terra, e quase nenhum nitrogénio, explicou ontem Hoover à agência Reuters. O nitrogénio também pode ser um sinal de vida mas a sua ausência pode apenas significar que o nitrogénio que possa ter existido naquelas estruturas se decompôs numa forma gasosa há muito tempo, defendeu o investigador.

“Há muito que sabemos da existência de bio-indicadores muito interessantes em meteoritos e que a detecção de estruturas que são muito semelhantes... às cianobactérias conhecidas na Terra é interessante na medida em que indica que a vida não se restringe ao planeta Terra”, comentou Hoover.

Hoover, que trabalha no Centro de Voos Espaciais Marshall da NASA, em Alabama, especializou-se no estudo de microscópicas formas de vida que sobrevivem em ambientes extremos, como os glaciares, permafrost (solo permanentemente gelado) e nascentes termais. Não é o primeiro a defender a vida microscópica em outros mundos. Em 1996, cientistas da NASA apresentaram estudos que indicavam provas de vida fossilizada vinda de Marte num meteorito encontrado na Antárctida. Desde então, esta descoberta tem sido refutada e as provas mostraram-se ilusivas e difíceis de compreender.

A descoberta de Hoover pode conhecer o mesmo destino. Numa declaração publicada na revista, o seu editor, Rudy Schild, afirma que Hoover é um “cientista respeitado e um astrobiólogo com carreira credível na NASA”. Mas, “dada a natureza controversa da sua descoberta, convidámos cem especialistas e emitimos um convite geral a mais de cinco mil cientistas para analisar o artigo e apresentarem a sua análise crítica”.

NOTA: para além além da asneira de dizer nitrogénio em português de Portugal (cá dizemos azoto...) há que ter muito cuidado com estas notícias...

5 comentários:

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