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METEORITE RESEARCH YIELDING NO MORE CLUES OF LIFE ON MARS

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A NASA scientist said his team is looking for signs of life in other meteorites from Mars, but it has found no confirmed evidence like that which he reported in August.

David S. McKay, a researcher at the Johnson Space Center near Houston, said that his group has found some interesting structures inside a meteorite from Mars that is 200 million to 1 billion years old but that it is too early to draw any conclusions."We have seen some very preliminary evidence that encourages us to look at other meteorites," McKay told The Associated Press. But he added: "What we have seen is very weak and is not something I would want to speculate on."

McKay said a report on "The CBS Evening News" that the researchers had found possible cell structures quoted him accurately, but he added: "I misspoke. I would like to pull back on that."

A team of NASA and university scientists reported in August that they had found chemical, microscopic and organic evidence of gold-colored structures that might have been the fossilized remains of microbes on Mars that lived some 3.6 billion years ago.

The preliminary evidence found recently, McKay said Friday night, was in a considerably younger meteorite. He said the rocky specimen came from an era when Mars is not thought to have had water on its surface, and the presence of water is generally considered essential for life.