Case File: Rock #84-001
Date: December 1984
Description: Rock #84-001 is described as a 4.2 pound, large potato sized Martian meteorite with fossilized microorganisms inside.
CaseEditHistory: In December of 1984, Dr. Robert Score was a team of American scientists on a geological expedition searching for meteorites in Antarctica. Dr. Score soon picked up a rock later known as Rock #84-001, that was on 4.2 pounds and the size of a large potato. No one paid much attention to it and for eight years, it sat on a shelf because it was misclassified. A few years later, a geologist named David Middlefield re-classified the rock as a Martian meteorite, the twelfth ever discovered, and was about 4.5 billion years old, and called Rock #84-001. Then, a team of scientists analyzed the rock and made a shocking discovery: fossilized remains of tiny microorganisms. The rock had apparently traveled from Mars 4.5 billions years ago, as Mars was wetter and warmer and being bombarded by meteor showers. Over the next 500 million years, chemical reactions in the "primeval soup" apparently produced a primitive life form.
As the water evaporated, the life forms were enclosed in the rock and became fossilized. It was then hit by a meteor, stayed in space for about 16 million years, before smashing into Earth 13,000 years ago. Some believe that although the organisms in Rock #84-001 did not start life on Earth, similar microorganisms may have came to Earth earlier, and they started the human race, which would mean that all life on Earth may be from Mars. However, not all of the scientists believe that the rock is proof of life on Mars. In December of 1996, the unmanned Pathfinder spacecraft took off for Mars. The mission collected hundreds of photos of Mars, along with rocks, soil, and weather data. But in order to find life, they would have to dig into the planet. To this day, many still wonder if there is life on Mars, and if Rock #84-001 holds the key to this mystery.
Investigations: Many NASA scientists have investigated Rock #84-001 to find out if the organisms in it came from Mars and if will help prove that there is life on Mars.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the November 1, 1996 episode.
Results: Unsolved. In 2008, the Phoenix Mission involved a robotic spacecraft landing on the surface of Mars and has it test for traces of water in the soil and atmosphere. However, it is unknown whether the mission will find evidence of life on Mars.