Hot off the press: In a new study led by Alastair Tait, we have shown that environmental microorgansims from Australia’s arid Nullarbor Plain very commonly colonise stony meteorites that have fallen to Earth. Microbes take advantage of the composition and properties of minerals in meteorites to scavenge water, regulate pH, and derive nutrients and energy. They also leave behind a variety of biomarkers (geochemical records of their presence). Because stony meteorites are amongst the best studied rocks in our solar system, we might be able to use them as a sort of “standard” to detect biomarkers on Mars and beyond.
You can learn more about this work here: 10.1016/j.gca.2017.07.025.