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No, PAHs do not mean life on Mars – again and again May 26, 2012

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

A new study identifies polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Martian meteorites.


This more detailed study of many more Martiam meteorites found that the associated carbon material and magma-type rocks point to an abiotic origin. When the first NASA study of this sort came out back in the mid-1990s there were scientists both for and against the idea. I was contacted both by those authors at NASA and some of their opposition. My message was that PAHs are not formed by biological means on Earth anyway. They occur in petroleum dues to transformation of ringed organic compounds like steroids through loss of functional groups around the periphery. Or they can be converted from organic matter by the high-energy conditions and drastic chemistry that occurs around deep-sea hydrothermal vents (work don by me with Dr. Bernie Simoneit of Oregon State University).

PAHs are thermodynamically favored over other types of molecules. The resonance energy is a gain. That is why they occur throughout interstellar space, and probably are seen in comets, the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan, and on Mars. PAHs are not directly biogenic. I said it almost twenty years ago and now those doing the laboratory work concur.



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