(Image from Nasa Web Site,
showing Mars surface)
Press Releases
About Life on
Mars & Jupiter (8/96)

The time for assuming we are alone in the Universe is finally finding a way to sneak in to the scientific community with new finds coming up about possible life on Mars and Jupiter. In this section, we share various press releases that have been issued by official agencies (finally) sharing some of their findings. Sources for this material come from our assistance Dave Vetterick and the IUFO mailing list.


Press Releases on Mars -- Page Index

Nasa Announcement of Life on Mars

Jupiter News at Galieo Science Updates

Statement from Nasa Administrator

Primitive Life on Early Mars

Additional Comments on NASA Web Site

Nasa Announcement of Life on Mars

Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 17:46:50 -0700
From: veterick@ix.netcom.com (DAVE VETTERICK)
To: rshapiro@interaccess.com

Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 16:30:18 -0400
From: NASANews@luna.osf.hq.nasa.gov (NASA HQ Public Affairs Office)
To: press-release-com@venus.hq.nasa.gov
Subject: NASA Briefing Wednesday on Discovery
of Early Martian Life
Sender: owner-press-release@venus.hq.nasa.gov

Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC                   August 6, 1996
(Phone:  202/358-1727)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 713/483-5111)

David F. Salisbury
Stanford University, CA
(Phone: 415/723-2558)



        A team of NASA and Stanford scientists will discuss 
its findings showing strong circumstantial evidence of 
possible early Martian life, including microfossil remains 
found in a Martian meteorite, at a news conference scheduled 
for 1:00 p.m. EDT, August 7, at NASA Headquarters, 300 E. St. 
SW, Washington, DC.  The team's findings will be published in 
the August 16 issue of Science magazine.  

        Panelists will be:

-  Dr. Wesley Huntress, Jr., NASA Assoc. Administrator for Space Science,
	 Washington, DC
-  Dr. David McKay, principal author, NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), 
	 Houston, TX
-  Dr. Everett Gibson, NASA JSC, Houston, TX 
-  Dr. Richard N. Zare, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University, CA
-  Kathy Thomas-Keprta, Lockheed-Martin, JSC, Houston, TX
-  Dr. William Schopf, Professor, Department of Earth and Space Sciences,
	 Univ. of California, Los Angeles 

       The briefing will be carried live on NASA TV with two-
way question-and-answer capability for reporters covering the 
event from participating NASA centers.  Audio of the 
broadcast will be available on voice circuit at the Kennedy 
Space Center by calling 407/867-1260.

       NASA Television is broadcast on Spacenet 2, 
transponder 5, channel 9, C-Band, located at 69 degrees West 
longitude, with horizontal polarization.  Frequency will be 
on 3880.0 megahertz, with audio on 6.8 megahertz.  


NASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to domo@hq.nasa.gov. In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the words "subscribe press-release" (no quotes). The system will reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second automatic message will include additional information on the service. NASA releases also are available via CompuServe using the command GO NASA.

Jupiter News at Galieo Science Updates

Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 17:48:42 -0700
From: veterick@ix.netcom.com (DAVE VETTERICK)
To: rshapiro@interaccess.com

Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 13:45:18 -0400
From: NASANews@luna.osf.hq.nasa.gov (NASA HQ Public Affairs Office)
To: press-release-com@venus.hq.nasa.gov
Subject: Images of Europa, Jupiter's Great Red Spot,
and Volcanoes on Io to be Featured in Next Galileo Science Update
Sender: owner-press-release@venus.hq.nasa.gov

Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC                   August 6, 1996
(Phone:  202/358-1753)

Mary Beth Murrill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 
(Phone:  818/354-5011)



        Remarkable new findings from NASA's Galileo 
spacecraft about Jupiter's frozen moon Europa, the planet's 
Great Red Spot, and giant sulfur volcanoes on the moon Io 
will be revealed at a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday,
August 8, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.

        The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television 
and will feature discussion of the new mission results by 
members of the Galileo science team.  Several new color and 
black-and-white images and a video clip highlighting Galileo 
imagery of Europa also will be released.

        Highlights of the briefing will include new 
scientific insights into:

        - dramatic evidence of geologic activity that has has 
caused melting and reshaping of the surface of Europa, a 
cracked, frozen world largely made of water ice;

        - Jupiter's swirling Great Red Spot -- which is 
actually a gigantic hurricane as big across as three Earths 
-- with new details of its structure revealed by Galileo's 
sensitive camera;

        - and, the moon Io, the most volcanically active body 
in the solar system, which is being constantly resurfaced 
with new lava flows.

        NASA Television is broadcast on Spacenet 2, 
transponder 5, channel 9, C-Band, located at 69 degrees West 
longitude, frequency 3880 Mhz, audio subcarrier 6.8 Mhz, 
horizontal polarization.  Two-way question and answer 
capability will be offered from participating NASA  centers.

        Images and information on the mission will be 
available electronically through the Galileo Internet home 
page at URL:  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo


Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 15:17:59 -0700
From: veterick@ix.netcom.com (DAVE VETTERICK)
Subject: Fwd: Galileo Science Briefing Postponed
To: iufo@alterzone.com
Sender: iufo-approval@alterzone.com

-> SearchNet's iufo Mailing List

They evidently don't think we can stand all this excitement in just two days .......... Dave

Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 12:54:23 -0400
From: NASANews@luna.osf.hq.nasa.gov (NASA HQ Public Affairs Office)
To: press-release-com@venus.hq.nasa.gov
Subject: Galileo Science Briefing Postponed
Sender: owner-press-release@venus.hq.nasa.gov

Doug Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC                August 7, 1996
(Phone:  358-1753)



    The Galileo Science Update briefing planned for tomorrow, 
Thursday, Aug. 8, has been postponed.  The briefing is now 
scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Aug. 13, originating from 
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.  The briefing 
will be carried live on NASA Television, with two-way question 
and answer capability from participating NASA centers.


(Editor's Note: See Richard Hoagland's remark about Jupiter and the moon Europa on our page in D. Vetterick's section.)

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-> Posted by: veterick@ix.netcom.com (DAVE VETTERICK)

Statement from Nasa Administrator

Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 00:30:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: Francisco Lopez {d005734c@dcfreenet.seflin.lib.fl.us}
Subject: Statement from Daniel S. Goldin, NASA Administrator (fwd)

Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 16:33:57 -0400
From: NASA HQ Public Affairs Office {NASANews@luna.osf.hq.nasa.gov}
To: press-release-other4@venus.hq.nasa.gov

Laurie Boeder
Headquarters, Washington, DC        August 6, 1996
(Phone:  202/358-1898)

RELEASE:  96-159


     "NASA has made a startling discovery that points to the 
possibility that a primitive form of microscopic life may 
have existed on Mars more than three billion years ago.  The 
research is based on a sophisticated examination of an ancient
Martian meteorite that landed on Earth some 13,000 years ago.

     The evidence is exciting, even compelling, but not 
conclusive.  It is a discovery that demands further 
scientific investigation.  NASA is ready to assist the 
process of rigorous scientific investigation and lively 
scientific debate that will follow this discovery.

     I want everyone to understand that we are not talking 
about 'little green men.'  These are extremely small, single-
cell structures that somewhat resemble bacteria on Earth.  
There is no evidence or suggestion that any higher life form 
ever existed on Mars.

     The NASA scientists and researchers who made this 
discovery will be available at a news conference tomorrow to 
discuss their findings.  They will outline the step-by-step 
"detective story" that explains how the meteorite arrived 
here from Mars, and how they set about looking for evidence 
of long-ago life in this ancient rock.  They will also 
release some fascinating images documenting their research.


Primitive Life on Early Mars

Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 12:59:01 -0400
From: t81562@stress13.dehavilland.ca (Carlos Motta)
Subject: Re: Meteorite Yields Evidence of Primitive Life on Early Mars
To: iufo@alterzone.com
Sender: iufo-approval@alterzone.com

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Donald L. Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC             August 7, 1996
(Phone:  202/358-1727)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone:  713/483-5111)

David Salisbury
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
(Phone:  415/723-2558)

RELEASE:  96-160


       A NASA research team of scientists at the Johnson Space 
Center (JSC), Houston, TX, and at Stanford University, Palo 
Alto, CA, has found evidence that strongly suggests primitive 
life may have existed on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago.

       The NASA-funded team found the first organic molecules 
thought to be of Martian origin; several mineral features 
characteristic of biological activity; and possible 
microscopic fossils of primitive, bacteria-like organisms 
inside of an ancient Martian rock that fell to Earth as a 
meteorite.  This array of indirect evidence of past life will 
be reported in the August 16 issue of the journal Science, 
presenting the investigation to the scientific community at 
large for further study.

       The two-year investigation was co-led by JSC planetary 
scientists Dr. David McKay, Dr. Everett Gibson and Kathie 
Thomas-Keprta of Lockheed-Martin, with the major collaboration 
of a Stanford team headed by Professor of Chemistry Dr. Richard 
Zare, as well as six other NASA and university research partners.

        "There is not any one finding that leads us to believe 
that this is evidence of  past life on Mars.  Rather, it is a 
combination of many things that we have found," McKay said. 
"They include Stanford's detection of an apparently unique 
pattern of organic molecules, carbon compounds that are the 
basis of life.  We also found several unusual mineral phases 
that are known products of primitive microscopic organisms on 
Earth.  Structures that could be microsopic fossils seem to 
support all of this.  The relationship of all of these things 
in terms of location - within a few hundred thousandths of an 
inch of one another - is the most compelling evidence."

       "It is very difficult to prove life existed 3.6 billion 
years ago on Earth, let alone on Mars," Zare said.  "The 
existing standard of proof, which we think we have met, 
includes having an accurately dated sample that contains 
native microfossils, mineralogical features characteristic of 
life, and evidence of complex organic chemistry."

       "For two years, we have applied state-of-the-art 
technology to perform these analyses, and we believe we have 
found quite reasonable evidence of past life on Mars," Gibson 
added.  "We don't claim that we have conclusively proven it.  
We are putting this evidence out to the scientific community 
for other investigators to verify, enhance, attack -- disprove 
if they can -- as part of the scientific process.  Then, 
within a year or two, we hope to resolve the question one way 
or the other."

       "What we have found to be the most reasonable 
interpretation is of such radical nature that it will only be 
accepted or rejected after other groups either confirm our 
findings or overturn them," McKay added.

       The igneous rock in the 4.2-pound, potato-sized 
meteorite has been age-dated to about 4.5 billion years, the 
period when the planet Mars formed.  The rock is believed to 
have originated underneath the Martian surface and to have 
been extensively fractured by impacts as meteorites bombarded 
the planets in the early inner solar system.  Between 3.6 
billion and 4 billion years ago, a time when it is generally 
thought that the planet was warmer and wetter, water is 
believed to have penetrated fractures in the subsurface rock, 
possibly forming an underground water system.

       Since the water was saturated with carbon dioxide from 
the Martian atmosphere, carbonate minerals were deposited in 
the fractures.  The team's findings indicate living organisms 
also may have assisted in the formation of the carbonate, and 
some remains of the microscopic organisms may have become 
fossilized, in a fashion similar to the formation of fossils 
in limestone on Earth.  Then, 16 million years ago, a huge 
comet or asteroid struck Mars, ejecting a piece of the rock 
from its subsurface location with enough force to escape the 
planet.  For millions of years, the chunk of rock floated 
through space.  It encountered Earth's atmosphere 13,000 years 
ago and fell in Antarctica as a meteorite.

       It is in the tiny globs of carbonate that the 
researchers found a number of features that can be interpreted 
as suggesting past life.  Stanford researchers found easily 
detectable amounts of organic molecules called polycyclic 
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) concentrated in the vicinity of 
the carbonate.  Researchers at JSC found mineral compounds 
commonly associated with microscopic organisms and the 
possible microscopic fossil structures.

       The largest of the possible fossils are less than 1/100 
the diameter of a human hair, and most are about 1/1000 the 
diameter of a human hair - small enough that it would take 
about a thousand laid end-to-end to span the dot at the end of 
this sentence.  Some are egg-shaped while others are tubular.  
In appearance and size, the structures are strikingly similar 
to microscopic fossils of the tiniest bacteria found on Earth.

       The meteorite, called ALH84001, was found in 1984 in 
Allan Hills ice field, Antarctica, by an annual expedition of 
the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Meteorite Program.  
It was preserved for study in JSC's Meteorite Processing 
Laboratory and its possible Martian origin was not recognized 
until 1993.  It is one of only 12 meteorites identified so far 
that match the unique Martian chemistry measured by the Viking 
spacecraft that landed on Mars in 1976.  ALH84001 is by far 
the oldest of the 12 Martian meteorites, more than three times 
as old as any other. 

       Many of the team's findings were made possible only 
because of very recent technological advances in high-
resolution scanning electron microscopy and laser mass 
spectrometry.  Only a few years ago, many of the features that 
they report were undetectable.  Although past studies of this 
meteorite and others of Martian origin failed to detect 
evidence of past life, they were generally performed using 
lower levels of magnification, without the benefit of the 
technology used in this research.  The recent discovery of 
extremely small bacteria on Earth, called nanobacteria, 
prompted the team to perform this work at a much finer scale 
than past efforts.

       The nine authors of the Science report include McKay, 
Gibson and Thomas-Keprta of JSC; Christopher Romanek, formerly 
a National Research Council post-doctoral fellow at JSC who is 
now a staff scientist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory 
at the University of Georgia; Hojatollah Vali, a National 
Research Council post-doctoral fellow at JSC and a staff 
scientist at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and 
Zare, graduate students Simon J. Clemett and Claude R. Maechling
and post-doctoral student Xavier Chillier of the Stanford
University Department of Chemistry.

       The team of researchers includes a wide variety of  
expertise, including microbiology, mineralogy, analytical 
techniques, geochemistry and organic chemistry, and the 
analysis crossed all of these disciplines.  Further details on 
the findings presented in the Science article include:
* -- Researchers at Stanford University used a dual laser mass spectrometer -- the most sensitive instrument of its type in the world -- to look for the presence of the common family of organic molecules called PAHs. When microorganisms die, the complex organic molecules that they contain frequently degrade into PAHs. PAHs are often associated with ancient sedimentary rocks, coals and petroleum on Earth and can be common air pollutants. Not only did the scientists find PAHs in easily detectable amounts in ALH84001, but they found that these molecules were concentrated in the vicinity of the carbonate globules. This finding appears consistent with the proposition that they are a result of the fossilization process. In addition, the unique composition of the meteorite's PAHs is consistent with what the scientists expect from the fossilization of very primitive microorganisms. On Earth, PAHs virtually always occur in thousands of forms, but, in the meteorite, they are dominated by only about a half-dozen different compounds. The simplicity of this mixture, combined with the lack of light- weight PAHs like napthalene, also differs substantially from that of PAHs previously measured in non-Martian meteorites. * -- The team found unusual compounds -- iron sulfides and magnetite -- that can be produced by anaerobic bacteria and other microscopic organisms on Earth. The compounds were found in locations directly associated with the fossil-like structures and carbonate globules in the meteorite. Extreme conditions -- conditions very unlikely to have been encountered by the meteorite -- would have been required to produce these compounds in close proximity to one another if life were not involved. The carbonate also contained tiny grains of magnetite that are almost identical to magnetic fossil remnants often left by certain bacteria found on Earth. Other minerals commonly associated with biological activity on Earth were found in the carbonate as well. * -- The formation of the carbonate or fossils by living organisms while the meteorite was in the Antarctic was deemed unlikely for several reasons. The carbonate was age dated using a parent-daughter isotope method and found to be 3.6 billion years old, and the organic molecules were first detected well within the ancient carbonate. In addition, the team analyzed representative samples of other meteorites from Antarctica and found no evidence of fossil-like structures, organic molecules or possible biologically produced compounds and minerals similar to those in the ALH84001 meteorite. The composition and location of PAHs organic molecules found in the meteorite also appeared to confirm that the possible evidence of life was extraterrestrial. No PAHs were found in the meteorite's exterior crust, but the concentration of PAHs increased in the meteorite's interior to levels higher than ever found in Antarctica. Higher concentrations of PAHs would have likely been found on the exterior of the meteorite, decreasing toward the interior, if the organic molecules are the result of contamination of the meteorite on Earth.
Additional information may be obtained at 1 p.m. EDT via the Internet at:

Carlos Motta
e-mail: t81562@stress13.dehavilland.ca
"A professional is a person who can do his best at
a time when he doesn't particularly feel like it"
"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is
superior to all others because you were born in it"

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Additional Comments on NASA Web Site

In this section I summarize a few additional comments given out publicly by Nasa via their own Internet Web Site. Some additional key questions are addressed below with a link to the page I found them on.



Why Are the Meteorites from Mars?

A Summary of a few key facts taken from the page
on the Nasa Site at: http://cu-ames.arc.nasa.gov/text.htm

On this page it discuss that since 1815, we have collected twelve meteorites from Mars with the last one coming in 1995 ranging in weight from .012 Kg to 40 kg. On another page, it stated that some of the later meteorites (since the 1960's) were found in the Antartica.

How Do They Know These Meteorites are From Mars?
In 1970 the Viking Probe which landed on the surface of Mars did various measurements and recorded the type of gases in the Mars atmosphere. Upon examining these various meteorites, they found trapped gases inside which match the same gasses that Viking recorded. They believe the age of the meteorites are from 1.3 billion to 4.5 billion years old.

What Did They Find in the Meteorites?
They found organic molecules consisting of microscopic bacteria and fossils.

How Did the Meteorites Come Mars to the Earth?
The Scientist believe these pieces of Mars were flung into Space by large Meteorites landing on Mars and pushing into space parts of the planet ... (Editor's Note: I do not know if they have identified any craters on Mars?)

Contact for More Information:

Curator: Annie Platoff
Responsible NASA Official: Kelly Humphries

Dave's Favorite
Subjects Page

Life on Mars
and Jupiter Page