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Martian Rocks Essay

2177 words - 9 pages

     H. G. Wells wrote in his book, "War of the Worlds", about Martian invasion toward earth. He mentioned, "No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."

     Since then it has now been about 100 years Wells based his well-known story of human's ...view middle of the document...

The rock orbited in the solar system for a few million years and finally reached Earth about 13, 000 years ago.

     Investigation into the ALH84001 and the possibilities for containing remains of ancient Martian life was assigned to a team of NASA scientists. Dr. David McKay, Dr. Everett Gibson and Kathie Thomas-Kerpta of Lockhead Martin co-led the team with assistance from a Stanford team led by Professor of Chemistry Dr. Richard Zare. They investigated different features in ALH84001, trying to explain their origin and meaning and if these are evidence for life having once existed on Mars.

The ALH84001 is a rock formed originally from molten lava, containing small rounded carbonate mineral globules within the tiny cracks and fractures inside the rock. Within these carbonate minerals that the possibility of life existed on Mars is found. Water is a necessity in all forms of like. It acts as a solvent and needed for chemical reactions. Therefore, the minerals are believed to have precipitated from a liquid, possibly water, which was percolating through the rock. The key features are "carbonate globules"; contain mineral grains, which are similar to minerals produced by some bacteria on earth. Therefore it is possible that the mineral grains in ALH84001 could have been produced by Martian bacteria and would be further evidence that life once existed on Mars. These carbonates have hot been found in any other Martian meteorites. The ALH84001 weighs about four pounds it was actually much bigger, due to the entrance through Earth's atmosphere the rock burned up to the size it is now.

Researchers claim that 3 to 4 billion years ago water containing carbon dioxide percolated throughout the Martian rock that eventually became ALH84001. This deposited carbonates inside the meteorite as well as organic molecules, minerals, and even the fossil remains of Martian bacteria that once flourished in the water. Within the carbonates, were findings of minerals that could be associated with life. They found iron oxides and sulfides, which can be produced by anaerobic bacteria and other microbes. "The team found unusual compounds--iron sulfides and magnetite--that can be produced buy anaerobic bacteria and other microscopic organisms on Earth" They also found magnetite, which is a form of iron associated with some earthly bacteria. The size, structure and purity of the magnetites which can be produced biologically by bacteria on earth, thus they could have been formed by Martian bacteria. "Impressed by the grains' resemblance in size, shape, and crystalline regularity to magnetite produced within some terrestrial bacteria, the researchers argued that bacteria also produced the meteorite's magnetite-martian bacteria, that is" Such minerals are usually produced as waste products and the grains in ALH84001 are very similar in shape and structure to those produced by earth bacteria. The conditions under which...

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