Does the Allen Hills Meteorite from Mars Contain Fossilized Microbial Life?

“The Allan Hills Martian meteorite suggests there is evidence
for life on ancient Mars. If that is true ... there could still be life –
particularly in the subsurface regions of Mars”

- Kathie Thomas-Keptra, Ph.D., NASA Johnson Space Center

 

Mars by Hubble Space Telescope, June 30, 1999.
Mars by Hubble Space Telescope, June 30, 1999.
The Allan Hills meteorite (ALH84001) that crashed into Antarctica about 13,000 years ago. Scientists say gases in the meteorite definitely match 1976 Viking data about the Martian atmosphere. Allan Hills has magnetite crystals in its carbonate that match similar crystals produced by Earth bacteria. Photograph © 2000 by David J. Phillip, AP.
The Allan Hills meteorite (ALH84001) that crashed into Antarctica about 13,000 years ago. Scientists say gases in the meteorite definitely match 1976 Viking data about the Martian atmosphere. Allan Hills has magnetite crystals in its carbonate that match similar crystals produced by Earth bacteria. Photograph © 2000 by David J. Phillip, AP.
Three darker carbon, tiny, worm-like structures might be fossilized Martian bacteria photographed in the Allan Hills meteorite by Kathie Thomas-Keprta at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Small magnetite crystals were discovered inside the worm-like structures. Photomicrograph provided by the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
Transmission electron microscopy of hexagonal-shaped magnetite crystals (arrows) found inside the carbon worm-like structures in the Allan Hills meteorite from Mars that might be fossilized bacteria. Image photographed by Kathie Thomas-Keprta at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
Transmission electron microscopy of hexagonal-shaped magnetite crystals (arrows) found inside the carbon worm-like structures in the Allan Hills meteorite from Mars that might be fossilized bacteria. Image photographed by Kathie Thomas-Keprta at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
Transmission electron microscopy of hexagonal-shaped magnetite crystals (arrows) found inside the carbon worm-like structures in the Allan Hills meteorite from Mars that might be fossilized bacteria. Image photographed by Kathie Thomas-Keprta at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

December 24, 2009  Houston, Texas - On December 27, 1984, a team of U.S. meteorite hunters were searching in Allan Hills, Antarctica, when they discovered a 1.93 kilogram (about 4 pounds) meteorite dubbed “ALH 84001.” The rock is 3.9 billion years old and an analysis of trapped gases within ALH 84001 was an identical match to the Martian atmosphere that the 1976 Viking landers analyzed. So a new category of meteorites from Mars was confirmed.

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