• 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 complex organic compounds—bacteria—in fossilized form. This led scientists to think that life on Mars once was possible.

    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. ALH 84001 has provided the only known evidence of biological life found anywhere other than Earth.

  • 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.

    complex Noun

    group of structures or parts that are somehow related.

    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

    (acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration) U.S. agency responsible for space research and systems.

    organic Adjective

    composed of living or once-living material.

    possibility Noun

    chance or likelihood.

    rock Noun

    natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.

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