Exclusive: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars By Brian Berger Space News Staff Writer posted: 16 February 2005 02:09 pm ET
WASHINGTON -- A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here Sunday that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water.
The scientists, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, told the group that they have submitted their findings to the journal Nature for publication in May, and their paper currently is being peer reviewed.
What Stoker and Lemke have found, according to several attendees of the private meeting, is not direct proof of life on Mars, but methane signatures and other signs of possible biological activity remarkably similar to those recently discovered in caves here on Earth.
Stoker and other researchers have long theorized that the Martian subsurface could harbor biological organisms that have developed unusual strategies for existing in extreme environments. That suspicion led Stoker and a team of U.S. and Spanish researchers in 2003 to southwestern Spain to search for subsurface life near the Rio Tinto river—so-called because of its reddish tint—the product of iron being dissolved in its highly acidic water.