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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.