Investigations into an unknown organism on the martian meteorite Allan Hills 84001

Meteorit Planet Sci. 2000 Mar;35(2):237-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1945-5100.2000.tb01772.x.


Examination of fracture surfaces near the fusion crust of the martian meteorite Allan Hills (ALH) 84001 have been conducted using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) and has revealed structures strongly resembling mycelium. These structures were compared with similar structures found in Antarctic cryptoendolithic communities. On morphology alone, we conclude that these features are not only terrestrial in origin but probably belong to a member of the Actinomycetales, which we consider was introduced during the Antarctic residency of this meteorite. If true, this is the first documented account of terrestrial microbial activity within a meteorite from the Antarctic blue ice fields. These structures, however, do not bear any resemblance to those postulated to be martian biota, although they are a probable source of the organic contaminants previously reported in this meteorite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinomycetales
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Cold Climate*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Exobiology
  • Fossils
  • Mars*
  • Meteoroids*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning