Volume: 03, Issue: 04 02/23/2005 
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has examined the layered structure of this rock, called "Tetl," in the "Columbia Hills." Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Cornell.
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This approximate true-color image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows a rock outcrop dubbed "Longhorn," and behind it, the sweeping plains of Gusev Crater. Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Cornell.
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Data indicated that the mineralogy of the rocks in this area is different from that of those on the plains of Gusev Crater or in bedrock outcrops examined so far in the "Columbia Hills" inside the crater. Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Cornell.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
Cassini Explores Titan and Enceladus
Shuttle Moving Safely toward Return to Flight
Hubble and Cassini See the Light… of Saturn Auroras
Organize Special Classroom Activities

False News Reports Claim Life Found on Mars

News reports claiming scientists had found evidence of current life on Mars fascinated many Mars enthusiasts on Feb. 16, 2005. But since then, NASA has firmly denied that these reports are true.

The story first broke on SPACE.com and spacenews.com and was later carried by other media outlets. The report claimed a pair of scientists from NASA Ames Research Center, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke, told colleagues at a private meeting that they found strong evidence that there may currently be life on Mars. The scientists were said to have submitted their findings to the journal Nature for publication in spring.

According to the story, Stoker and Lemke had found evidence of methane presence and other biological activity that has also been discovered on Earth. Stoker had conducted research near the Rio Tinto river in Spain that concluded the presence of methane and the sulfate jarosite can allow life to exist despite inhospitable environments. Based on this research, Stoker and Lemke reportedly theorized the presence of methane and jarosite on Mars indicated an active biosphere on the planet.

Two days after the reports broke, however, NASA issued the following statement.

“News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASA scientists from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect.

“NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars missions that supports this claim. The work by the scientists mentioned in the reports cannot be used to directly infer anything about life on Mars, but may help formulate the strategy for how to search for martian life. Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth as analogs of possible environments on Mars. No research paper has been submitted by them to any scientific journal asserting martian life.”

To view NASA’s official statement in full, visit http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2005/feb/HQ_05052_mars_claim.html .

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