On August 6, 1996, NASA scientists announced that they had found evidence for the possibility of life on Mars. A Martian meteorite estimated to have struck Earth some 13,000 years ago may have contained bacteria in fossilized form. This led scientists to think that life on Mars once was possible. Most evidence associated with claims for biological life have since been explained by abiotic factors, but the event is significant in the history of the search for life outside Earth.

The meteorite was a rock that originated on Mars. Scientists think it was blasted away from that planet about 15 million years ago, possibly ejected into space following the impact of an asteroid with the Red Planet. The meteorite, known as Allan Hills 84001 (ALH 84001) was part of a larger collection of meteorites discovered in the Allan Hills of western Antarctica in 1984. 


irregularly shaped planetary body, ranging from 6 meters (20 feet) to 933 kilometers (580 miles) in diameter, orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

Plural Noun

(singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.


having to do with the study of life and living organisms.


data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.


type of rock that has crashed into Earth from outside the atmosphere.


(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) the U.S. space agency, whose mission statement is "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."


chance or likelihood.


natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.

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