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Final proof that Mars has bred life will be confirmed this year, leading NASA experts believe. The historic discovery will come not on Mars itself but from chunks of the red planet here on Earth.
David McKay, chief of astrobiology at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, says powerful new microscopes and other instruments will establish whether features in martian meteorites are alien fossils.

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A scientist who searches for extraterrestrial life will use a zeppelin airship to watch red salt ponds turn green while the environment is changed from near-Martian conditions into wetlands.
Work will begin next year on a decades-long project to restore thousands of acres of industrial salt-harvesting ponds in the South Bay into native wetland habitat.
The ponds are coloured red because of the colour of microbes that flourish in the extremely salty conditions. Green microbes will replace red ones as the wetlands are restored.

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Near the poles, water is abundant but permanently frozen.
New calculations by Diedrich Möhlmann of the German Aerospace Centre in Berlin suggest that these frozen deposits could contain liquid water, at least during the day. According to Möhlmann, the heat from sunlight penetrating into ice or snow should get absorbed by any embedded dust grains, warming the dust and the surrounding ice. This heat mostly gets trapped because ice absorbs infrared radiation.

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Nasa scientists have produced the most compelling evidence yet that bacterial life exists on Mars.
It showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria. The so-called bio-morphs are embedded beneath the surface layers of the rock, suggesting that they were already present when the meteorite arrived, rather than being the result of subsequent contamination by Earthly bacteria.


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The fossilised remains of Martian bugs have been discovered on a meteorite that crashed into the Antarctic 13,000 years ago.
The rock - named name Allen Hills 84001 - sparked a huge debate when it was found in 1996 and both Nasa and U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the possible discovery of life from Mars.
It was initially thought that the fossils were bacteria from Earth that contaminated the meteorite while it lay in the frozen wasteland.
But according to a leaked report from Nasa, scientists now believe the fossilised remains originated on Mars.


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EPSC09/17: Exotic life beyond Earth? Looking for life as we don't know it

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Discovery of ice fuels speculation about Martian life
Mars, Earth's arid red neighbour, may have had a more active past than previously believed.
UT research scientist John Holt and his team have found large reserves of ice buried under rock near the mid-latitudes of Mars, which could mean the planet was once flowing with water.

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Molten Mars kept life at bay
The surface of Mars was molten for more than 100 million years after it formed, preventing any early life evolving on the planet, say researchers.
Their findings, based on analysis of rare Martian meteorites at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in the US, are published today in Nature Geoscience.
Co-author Dr Craig O'Neill, of Macquarie University's Department of Earth and Planetary Science, says the study overturns previous thought that the surface of Mars cooled within a few thousand years.

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New cleaning protocol for future 'search for life' missions
Scientists have developed a new cleaning protocol for space hardware, such as the scoops of Mars rovers, which could be used on future "Search for Life" missions on other planets.
The new protocol was developed as part of a project to investigate life that exists in extreme Arctic environments, which are the closest analogue we have on Earth to the surface of Mars.
The studies are also designed to help guide future NASA and ESA planetary missions.

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