Do you think there might be life on other planets?
With the recent release of several movies featuring aliens in lead roles
(Contact, Men in Black, Independence
Day), the groundbreaking
achievements of the Mars Pathfinder Mission, and the concurrent
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the "Roswell Incident", it's not
surprising that so many people are once again asking the big question,
"Are we alone?".
Much of the newfound interest in the possibility of
life of other planets can be credited to the recent discovery of 4.5
meteorite, ALH84001. A team of scientists,
headed by Dr. David McKay, found microscopic structures in the meteorite
that resemble bacteria found here on Earth. Mineral grains and organic
chemical compounds were also observed near these structures that are
similar to those found in association with certain bacteria on
Scientists believe that the now famous chunk of rock was dislodged from
the surface of Mars 16 million years ago by an enormous asteroid impact.
The rock then travelled through space for several years before falling to
earth as a small meteorite in Antarctica 13,000 years ago.
To date, the Martian meteorite is the best evidence we have for the
existence of life on another planet. Part of the problem with searching
for other life forms may be the fact that we don't necessarily know what
we're looking for. Our standard concept of "life" is based on carbon and
water. But as Dr. David Grinspoon states, "We simply do not know if that
is the only chemical system that can make life, because the only example
of a biosphere we have is our own."
Submitted by Bianca (age 10, Canada)
Submitted by Erica (age 11, Alabama, USA)
Submitted by Little Billy (age 4, Iowa, USA)
Submitted by Amanda (age 11, Pennsylvania, USA)
(September 2, 1997)
Make Your Own Alien!