There's still controversy over whether the 3.9 billion-year-old Martian meteorite ALH84001, found in Antarctica on December 1984, contains fossilized Martian bacteria. If it does, it's possible that life came to Earth from Mars and that we are all, in effect, Martians. Some scientists think the fossils formed underwater, in shallow Martian seas, while others think they were caused by rain and came from our atmosphere here on Earth.
Researchers have found a "striking" match between microscopic features on underwater rocks on Earth and the microbe-like structures on Mars meteorite ALH84001. The evidence comes from underwater geological formations found below the surface of Lake Van in Turkey, which is the world's biggest alkaline lake. These rocks are dotted with complex carbonates that are very similar to those found on ALH84001. Professor Jozef Kazmierczak says, "Physically and chemically, there is a strong indication that we are looking at something similar."
This could increase the possibility that there is (or was) bacterial life on Mars, because the bacteria could have formed the same way there as it did here?in lakes and shallow seas. Many scientists see evidence on Mars that such bodies of water were once common there.
However, if the carbonates were cause by rain, they could have adhered to the meteorite as it passed through our atmosphere or after it landed here on Earth, leading to the opposite conclusion.
One question that needs to be answered is: are tiny, nanobacteria possible? Many scientists think that life cannot form in such small microbes and therefore the Martian "fossils" must be inorganic.
The controversy may be solved soon, since the European Union plans to launch a probe to Mars on June 2nd. It will take off from Kazakhstan and should reach Mars on Christmas day. The project leader, Colin Pillinger, says, "We have the experiment on board to detect the gases given off by micro-organisms. Even if those organisms are a thousand miles away, we should be able to tell if those gases are in the atmosphere."
This is an experiment that could change the world?or at least our understanding of it. Rupert Sheldrake says there are seven more.
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