Scientists have found new evidence that may indicate there is life on Mars. An analysis of data obtained by the 1997 Pathfinder mission to Mars suggests there could be chlorophyll in the soil close to the landing site. Chlorophyll is used by plants and other organisms on Earth to extract energy from sunlight.

When the Mars Pathfinder mission touched down in the Ares Vallis region of Mars in July 1997, it took many images of the surrounding area and released a small rover to sample rocks. A detailed analysis of the images of the landing site reveals two areas close to Pathfinder that have the spectral signature of chlorophyll. This could be highly significant?or they could just be patches of green-colored soil.

Dr. Carol Stoker, from the NASA Ames Research Center, and her team studied the Superpan, which is a high-resolution, highly processed series of superimposed images produced by Pathfinder?s camera. It recorded images of the landing site in 15 regions of the spectrum and contains information about rock types, colors and textures.

Since they knew the spectral signature of chlorophyll, the researchers wrote a computer program that scanned the Superpan looking for the spectral signature associated with red light absorption by chlorophyll. Six regions of the Superpan matched positive for the chlorophyll signature.

All of the evidence they saw was close to the camera. This is to be expected, since these are the areas where the camera has the highest sensitivity and resolution. Close examination revealed that some of the green areas were on the Pathfinder spacecraft itself. But two regions showed a chlorophyll signature in the soil around Pathfinder.

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A NASA spokesman says the claim about indications of life on Mars is overstated.According to NASA, ?Stoker has said they did not find evidence of chlorophyll or any evidence of life on Mars. There?s really nothing to report. I think they [the BBC, where the story originated] read more into the abstract than is really there.?

To see photos of what might be life on Mars, read ?Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets? by Tom Van Flandern,click here.

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