Not since Charles Darwin discovered the process by which life diversifies has a more important discovery been made (and I include relativity). In fact, part of me almost wants to say this is the most important discovery ever. Almost.
Nasa scientists have produced the most compelling evidence yet that bacterial life exists on Mars.
It showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria. The so-called bio-morphs are embedded beneath the surface layers of the rock, suggesting that they were already present when the meteorite arrived, rather than being the result of subsequent contamination by Earthly bacteria.
No, no, no. Stop. You didn’t let it sink in. Even if you’re amazed, you still haven’t let it sink in properly. It’s good evidence for life on another planet. LIFE ON ANOTHER PLANET.
This meteorite has actually been known for some time on Earth (1984), but it wasn’t until recently that better technology (thank you, science) made it possible to carry out far more detailed tests. The likely conclusion appears to be that this is, in fact, evidence for life.
As always, scientific excitement needs to be tempered with an eye toward always needing greater evidence (and there is some in the form of two separate meteorites). But that doesn’t make this any less exciting for me. It is crashingly obvious that life is wholly tenacious, so its existence elsewhere – in a Universe with more stars than grain of sands on all the beaches of Earth – is practically expected. Its close proximity and initial discovery is where the excitement really rests.