PIA00289: Carbon Compounds from Mars Found Inside Meteorite ALH84001
Target Name: Mars
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: Antarctic Meteorite Location and Mapping Project (AMLAMP)
Product Size: 722 x 564 pixels (width x height)
Producer ID: S94-032549
Addition Date: 1996-08-08
Full-Res TIFF: PIA00289.tif (876.2 kB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA00289.jpg (57.73 kB)

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Mars Life? - Meteorite ALH84001

This 4.5 billion-year-old rock, labeled meteorite ALH84001, is believed to have once been a part of Mars and to contain fossil evidence that primitive life may have existed on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago. The rock is a portion of a meteorite that was dislodged from Mars by a huge impact about 16 million years ago and that fell to Earth in Antarctica 13,000 years ago. The meteorite was found in Allan Hills ice field, Antarctica, by an annual expedition of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Meteorite Program in 1984. It is preserved for study at the Johnson Space Center's Meteorite Processing Laboratory in Houston.

A NASA research team of scientists at the Johnson Space Center and at Stanford University has found evidence that strongly suggests primitive life may have existed on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago. The NASA-funded team found the first organic molecules thought to be of Martian origin; several mineral features characteristic of biological activity; and possible microscopic fossils of primitive, bacteria-like organisms inside of an ancient Martian rock that fell to Earth as a meteorite. This array of indirect evidence of past life will be reported in the Aug. 16 issue of the journal Science, presenting the investigation to the scientific community at large to reach a future consensus that will either confirm or deny the team's conclusion.

Image Credit:
NASA/JSC/Stanford University

Image Addition Date:
1996-08-08