New research presented by a leading scientist on Thursday supports the claim that life on Earth originated on Mars.
Professor Steven Banner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology states that the “seeds” of life may have arrived on Earth via meteorites that jettisoned from Mars due to volcanic explosions.
Benner offered specific details of his research to his peers at the annual Goldschmidt Conference, a geochemistry conference in Florence, Italy.
"The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,” said Benner.
Benner points to the oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum as proof of his theories. Molybdenum is thought to be the agent that helped organic molecules cultivate the first living structures.
"It's only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed," said Benner. "This form of molybdenum couldn't have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely that life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet."
Scientists have pondered for decades how atoms joined to develop the three crucial molecular components of living organisms: RNA, DNA and proteins.
The molecules that meshed together and formed Earth’s early genetic material were much more complex than the chemicals believed to populate the planet more than three billion years ago. Scientists believe that RNA appeared first.
According to Benner, the minerals most effective at generating RNA would have dissolved in the oceans of early Earth, but the same minerals would have been prevalent on Mars.
"How is it possible that the chemicals that we now have supporting modern life, which is so unstable in water, could have arisen in water?" Benner told Discovery News last year.
“All living things are made from organic matter, but simply adding energy to organic molecules will not create life. Instead, left to themselves, organic molecules become something more like tar or asphalt,” said Prof Benner.
Benner’s theory that life on Earth originated on the red planet is currently unproven, but he hopes that NASA’s current missions on Mars will garner further evidence.