Mars Life? 20 Years Later, Debate Over Meteorite Continues

View of a purported "fossil" in the famous Mars meteorite known as Allan Hills 84001. Doubters argue that the feature is too small to be a sign of Mars life. Credit: NASA
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View of a purported "fossil" in the famous Mars meteorite known as Allan Hills 84001. Doubters argue that the feature is too small to be a sign of Mars life. Credit: NASA
View of a purported “fossil” in the famous Mars meteorite known as Allan Hills 84001. Doubters argue that the feature is too small to be a sign of Mars life.
Credit: NASA

 

By Charles Q. Choi

Twenty years ago, NASA scientists and their colleagues announced they had spotted possible signs of Mars life in a meteorite. The claim ignited a scientific controversy that lingers to this day.

In 1996, researchers led by David McKay, Everett Gibson and Kathie Thomas-Keprta from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston suggested that they might have found microbial fossils in a meteorite from Mars known as Allan Hills 84001 (ALH 84001). (Cosmic impacts on Mars can be powerful enough to blast rocks off the Red Planet, a fraction of which crash on Earth, the moon and other bodies in the solar system.)

The meteorite was first discovered in 1984 by geologists riding snowmobiles through the Allan Hills region of Antarctica. Scientists think ALH 84001 originally formed 4 billion years ago on Mars and landed on Earth about 13,000 years ago.

—Read more here: http://www.space.com/33690-allen-hills-mars-meteorite-alien-life-20-years.html


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