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The announcement on 7 August that a team of researchers had found traces of what might be ancient microbes in a chunk of Martian rock raised the curtain on what is likely to be a long, contentious debate. As the researchers explain in a report published in this issue of Science (p. 924) no one line of evidence requires their dramatic conclusion that minute bacteria flourished on Mars billions of years ago, when it may have been a wetter and more hospitable place. But they say that taken together, the three different minerals, an organic residue, and bacteria-like structures found in a meteorite that was blasted from the surface of Mars strongly suggest ancient life. Many other scientists, however, think inorganic processes could easily explain the clues.