It was to a great fanfare of publicity that researchers announced they had found evidence for past life on Mars in 1996. What they claimed they had discovered was a fossilized micro-organism in a Martian meteorite, which they argued was evidence that there has once been life on the Red Planet. Sadly, most scientists dismissed this claim in the decade that followed – finding other explanations for the rock’s formation.
One of the most tantalising questions in science is whether there is or ever has been life on Mars, at least in microbial form. But despite plenty of effort – including orbiting missions and even rovers that have analysed its red rocks and soil – we have so far not managed to detect any conclusively.