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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.
This is a picture of the meteorite ALH84001.
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NASA

The possible discovery of Life on Mars

In July, 1996 a team of scientists said that they had discovered possible fossils of bacteria in a meteorite named ALH84001 that came from Mars. It was found in Antarctica in 1984 after having landed there 12,000 years ago. After a couple years of study, it appears that the scientists were wrong.

Some chemicals found in the meteorite look like chemicals created by life on Earth. These same chemicals can also be created without the help of life. Small balls or spheres were seen in the meteorite which the scientists in 1996 thought were the fossilized remains of bacteria. However, they are roughly 1000 times smaller than the smallest life known on Earth. This seems much too small to be life. Other pieces of evidence turned out to have come from Earth after the rock landed here, and not from Mars at all.

The environment of Mars in the past was very different than it is today. Conditions then may have been favorable for the existence of life. Its too bad, but the Mars meteorite just isn't the proof that some people hoped it would be.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA