This may be the most controversial and intriguing meteorite in the world. It is an achondrite meteorite found in the Alan Hills of Antarctica in 1984. Scientists think the orange-colored globules formed on Mars about 3.6 billion years ago, and their structure suggests they may have formed with the assistance of bacteria-like organisms. That's right—possible life on Mars.
Photograph courtesy NASA

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  • 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. 

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    asteroid Noun

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

    bacteria Plural Noun

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

    biological Adjective

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

    evidence Noun

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

    meteorite Noun

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

    Encyclopedic Entry: meteorite
    NASA Noun

    (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."

    possibility Noun

    chance or likelihood.

    rock Noun

    natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.