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The existence of a toxic chemical discovered in the Martian soil could reduce the chances of life being found on the planet

Even though there appears to be traces of water on the Red Planet of Mars, a toxic chemical found in the soil located near the Martian north pole has put a damper on the possibility of life on the planet.

The perchlorate chemical, often times used in solid rocket fuel, is an odd discovery, forcing researchers to try and check to ensure the chemical didn't get taken to Mars from Earth.  Several more soil tests in the area will be conducted by researchers, although they are not sure how the chemical develops or the exact amount of it in the soil.

"While we have not completed our process on these soil samples, we have very interesting intermediate results," said Peter Smith, principal investigator from the project.

The Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer aboard the Phoenix recently tested two different soil samples collected at the north pole.  MECA previously painted a rather optimistic picture about the possibility of life on the Red Planet, which became more believable after evidence of ice crumbs found on the planet.

NASA decided to use MECA on Mars because it is able to test the acidity and presence of certain chemicals, salts and minerals in all collected soil samples.

Researchers believe it's still possible that life has existed on the planet, and believe it's possible life could be found in underground aquifers that are able to help reduce exposure to the toxic soil.  

Alongside MECA, NASA also is using the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA) to help try and find evidence of organic chemicals and the possibility of life on the Mars' surface.

Brown University researcher John Mustard, who doesn't have a hand in the project, said that all researchers should reserve judgment regarding the possibility of life on the Red Planet because of the existence of perchlorate.

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By oab on 8/5/2008 8:18:29 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the lander did use retro-rockets to help land itself, so I could see some soil contamination being possible from burned exhaust. I don't know how likely it is, and according to the article, NASA didn't say how likely it was either.

RE: Retro-rockets
By FITCamaro on 8/5/2008 8:32:59 AM , Rating: 2
Phoenix used hydrazine as the fuel for its landing rockets. Fox News has an article on this as well where they say that.,2933,397522,00.html

RE: Retro-rockets
By Lord 666 on 8/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Retro-rockets
By FITCamaro on 8/5/2008 9:11:58 AM , Rating: 2
STS-114 was 3 years ago. Why are you even mentioning it?

RE: Retro-rockets
By Lord 666 on 8/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Retro-rockets
By erple2 on 8/5/2008 10:13:01 AM , Rating: 2
Who cares if the NSA was looking at Mars?

If the NSA is doing something, then there must be credible evidence that there must be aliens there. After all, our intelligence community is infallible, right?

Is this a Cargo Cult springing up now? If so, where can I sign up?


RE: Retro-rockets
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 8/5/2008 10:28:56 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe it was NaSA? I think you read a typo. The NSA doesn't exist.

RE: Retro-rockets
By JustTom on 8/5/2008 11:11:36 AM , Rating: 2
Um, NSA would be NationalSecurity Agency.....

Although, I think you are still right about the typo...

RE: Retro-rockets
By Mojo the Monkey on 8/5/2008 1:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
No, the NSA doesnt exist....

RE: Retro-rockets
By radializer on 8/5/2008 9:46:32 PM , Rating: 2
or as they say ... No Such Agency

RE: Retro-rockets
By Lord 666 on 8/5/2008 9:13:04 AM , Rating: 2
But I think this better explains it all...

How many probes were lost on the planet already, its just from one of them.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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