Is There Life on Mars? by Harcourt Achieve Inc

Is There Life on Mars? Worksheet

Read this information about the possibility of life on Mars. Think about the meanings of the words in bold type.

About 600,000 years ago, meteorites from the planet Mars landed on Antarctica. There the chunks of rock lay until August of 1996, when American scientists found them. They took pictures of the rocks with microscopes. The pictures show that they contain the fossil remains of ancient Martian microbes. The discovery of the tiny organisms caused a great deal of excitement in the scientific world. They raised the possibility that life still exists on Mars.

To try to solve the mystery, space missions are flying to Mars. The first, the Mars Pathfinder, landed on Mars on July 4, 1997. The next day, a small robotic vehicle left the spacecraft. The Sojourner, which was about the size of a small suitcase, explored the surface of Mars. It traveled several hundred feet from the spacecraft, testing rocks with its specially designed probe. Another mission, the Mars Global Surveyor, began to orbit Mars in September 1997.

WORKSHEET & Sample PDF Activity

Sample PDF Activity

These early missions searched for life, past or present, and for evidence of liquid water or ice. Without water, life cannot exist. Long ago, Mars may have had huge oceans and a dense atmosphere. But, sometime in the last three billion years, the climate changed dramatically. Mars would have lost most of its air and all of its surface water. The water would not disappear, though. It would still exist somewhere, in polar ice caps or in underground lakes. In 2001, the Odyssey probe reached Mars, sending back information that finally confirmed the existence of abundant water on the planet. NASA scientists have selected two sites for future landings on Mars in 2003. Perhaps these missions will find evidence of life in outer space. Or perhaps the mystery will continue.

Our Neighbor in Space

Write two headlines for newspaper articles about discovering the fossil remains of ancient Martian microbes on Antarctica. Use the words microbes, organisms, and meteorites in your headlines. Write a headline for new missions.

Our Neighbor in Space, worksheet 2

Classify the vocabulary words.Write
the word that belongs in each group.

Mission to Mars

  1. Viking, Pathfinder, ______
  2. asteroids, meteors, ______
  3. maneuvers, actions, ______
  4. bacteria, germs, ______ or ______
  5. path, route, ______
  6. antenna, arm, ______

Exploring Mars

  1. Draw a picture of a robotic vehicle.
  2. Write a caption for your picture.

Answer Key – Our Neighbor in Space

Answers will vary.

  1. Surveyor
  2. meteorites
  3. missions
  4. microbes or organisms
  5. orbit
  6. probe


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Harcourt Achieve Inc.offers some of the best social studies curriculum educational Products with a primary focus on K-8 educational products. Available as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Steck-Vaughn.

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