Dear Stephanie Palmer,
It is great to hear that that you LOVE science. It is really fun to be a scientist. Don't think that you aren't good at it. I was scared of science when I was your age. As I grew up I became more interested and was less shy about asking questions and my fear went away. That is how you learn, keep asking those questions. No question is dumb!
Here are the answers to your questions:
1. Since you know there is life on Mars, do you know what they look like. We do NOT know that there is life on Mars. One group of scientist found something that think MAY be old life (nothing living now). BUT, they are not sure if their findings are true. It still could be something from earth. Scientists have a lot more work to do before they can say there once was life on Mars.
The things that the scientists found are very, very, very small tubular objects that resemble earth-like bacteria. This does not mean that it is bacteria - more work needs to be done before we know for sure!! this work will take years.
2. How did you figure out there was life on Mars? The scientific process is to look at the rock on a microscopic level. The presence of certain minerals in the rock led the scientists to look at isotopes (ask Ms. Weeg to explain that term) which led them to use a super sensitive microscope (scanning electron microscope) that looks at the make up of the rock on the level too small to see with the naked eye.
To Stephanie Palmer:
Hi Stephanie, my name is Roberta Score (Robbie is my nickname). Mr. Dave asked me to answer your question about life on Mars.
We REALLY do not know if there was life on Mars. What you have been hearing in the news is the interpretation of one group of scientists. They have said that more work needs to be done before they believe it also. It will be many years before we will have an answer. Plus the scientists are saying they think there was possibly fossilized life, which means life from long ago, not now.
To: Andrew Giordano
Hi, My name is Roberta Score, but my nickname is Robbie. You directed your question to Mr. Dave. He thought that I should answer the question about the meteorite. I am the lady who found the meteorite. I was part of an expedition down here in Antarctica 12 years ago that was looking for meteorites in the Allan Hills area of Antarctica. Allan Hills is about 150 miles from McMurdo, close to the MacKay Glacier. These features should be on a map. You should look at a map to see if you can find those locations.
Until 3 months ago, I was the Curator of the Antarctic Meteorite Laboratory in Houston, Texas at the Johnson Space Center. The meteorite is still in the lab there but pieces of it are all over the world in different scientists' laboratories. There is also a piece of it at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC for the public to see.
We don't know how big the meteorite was when it left Mars but it was 4 pounds when it was found. We also don't know if the finding talked about in the press actually is life. Only one group of scientists have studied the features. Many more studies need to be done by the scientists who made the announcement and others who have different specialities. The Group making the announcement are Geochemists. Biologists, Paleontologist, and other specialized groups need to study it also. It will be many years before we can say there possibly was life on Mars a very long time ago.
Hi, My name is Roberta Score, but my nickname is Robbie. You directed your question to Mr. Dave. He thought that I should answer the question about the meteorite. The meteorite is the size of a grapefruit, has a black crust, and is dull gray inside. It looks different from Earth rocks.
Yes, it is really cold here. Since we are in the Southern Hemisphere, it is spring here and it is slowly getting warmer. However, it will never get warm enough for it to rain. I just looked up the temperature for you. It is about 4:00 pm and the temperature outside is 0 degrees but it is windy so it feels like -56 degrees. Burr, that is cold.
Reply to Ashley Pollitt
Hi Ashley, I am Robbie. Antarctica is very beautiful and very cold. Today it feels like it is -56 degrees out because of the wind, but it is only 0 degrees. Summer is on its way (although you are heading into winter because you are inthe Northern Hemisphere and I am in the Southern Hemisphere.
I've been studying meteorites for 18 years now, so I may be able to answer some of your questions about them. Or I may refer you to the library.
ALH84001 was found in the Allan Hills region of Antarctica in 1984. It landed on Earth about 13,000 years ago. Long before we or any of our family were born!