The extraordinary claim by Dr Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist with Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center, comes after ten years of studying tiny bacteria in meteorites that have fallen in remote areas across the globe.
He explains that travelling to Antarctica, Siberia and Alaska he has studied an extremely rare form of meteorites - CI1 carbonaceous chondrites – of which only nine are known to exist on earth.
Is this what an alien looks like? Research claims fossilised bacteria from meteors appear similar to bacteria found on earth - like Titanospirillum velox, above. That suggests life is more widespread
He suggests that meteors spread organisms around the universe and that life on earth could have been planted by bacteria in an asteroid hitting the planet in its infancy.
In one case he found on a meteorite an organism similar in size and overall structure to the giant bacterium Titanospirillum velox, an organism found here on planet Earth.
He suggests this proves life is more widespread than we first thought.
Discovery: Dr. Richard B. Hoover has challenged anyone to prove to him his findings are wrong
‘This field of study has just barely been touched -- because quite frankly, a great many scientists would say that this is impossible.
‘The exciting thing is that they [the bacteria] are in many cases recognisable and can be associated very closely with the generic species here on earth.
He added: ‘There are some that are just very strange and don’t look like anything that I’ve been able to identify, and I’ve shown them to many other experts that have also come up stumped.’
Dr Hoover would collect each meteorite stones and break them in laboratory conditions, scanning for fossilised remains.
It was then he made his discovery, identifying one biological remain as having no nitrogen – something that, until now, is found in all living organisms.
The scientist said: ‘If someone can explain how it is possible to have a biological remain that has no nitrogen, or nitrogen below the detect ability limits that I have, in a time period as short as 150 years, then I would be very interested in hearing that.
‘I’ve talked with many scientists about this and no one has been able to explain.’
The findings are published in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology, which has already invited the science community to analyse the results for themselves and write critical responses.
Bleak: Dr Hoover spent ten years studying rare meteorites that had fallen in the world's most remote areas including the Antarctic, pictured
Dr. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, said there is a lot of hesitancy to believe such finding.
He said, if true, the implications would be far-reaching throughout the fields of science and astronomy. ‘Maybe life was seeded on earth – it developed on comets for example, and just landed here when these things were hitting the very early Earth.’
‘It would suggest life didn’t really begin on the Earth, it began as the solar system was forming.’
The findings will need to undergo independent testing before they can be classified as ‘a confirmed signature of life.’
Scientists, he said, will now take the research to the next level of scrutiny, which includes an independent confirmation of the results by another lab, before the findings can be classified ‘a confirmed signature of life.’