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A Babe in the Universe

Life on Mars

11 Dec 2009, 21:20 UTC
Life on Mars
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Humans have long asked about life on Mars. In 1976 the Viking Lander brought experiments designed to find chemical reactions indicative of life. To scientists' surprise, those reactions were found in abundance. Researchers explained the positive results as chemical reactions, even inventing reactions that had never been observed on Earth. After Viking, Mars was officially called lifeless.25 years ago this month geologist Robbie Score spent her Christmas holiday Wintering in Antarctica. On December 27, 1984 she was hunting for rocks on the Far Western Icefield near the Allan Hills. She spotted an odd grapefruit-sized rock on the ice. Score immediately identified it as a meteorite, and its greenish colour made it distinct from other meteorites found nearby. Bobbie Score named the rock ALH84001, an Allan Hills meteorite found in 1984. For nine years the odd green rock sat on a shelf unnoticed, but Robbie Score may have stumbled upon one of history's great finds.An early classification identified ALH84001 as coming from an asteroid. In 1993 geologist Duck Mittlefehldt, a friend of Robbie Score, reexamined the little meteorite and concluded that it had arrived from Mars. Later analysis showed that the rock had first crystallized 4.5 billion years ago, near the ...

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