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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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RE: We presume too much
By jerschae on 8/5/2008 11:40:27 AM , Rating: 2
Something that is necessary to include in any calculation of the possibility of life anywhere in the universe is the elemental truth that the basic laws of science (all fields) are the same everywhere throughout the universe. For instance, 2+2=4 is a very basic mathematical truth that never changes regardless of one's position or location in the known universe. This same concept applies to , (and is accepted by the scientific community), the factors necessary for life . In other words, the factors that are necessary for life here are necessary for life anywhere else. The shear complexity of the "simplest" bacteria or of the compounds necessary for life give strong support to this "elemental truth." That being said, the existence of a chemical such as perchlorate (and it's effects on organic compounds) in the Martian soil could help show that life cannot have existed on Mars.

RE: We presume too much
By retrospooty on 8/5/2008 12:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree entirely...

#1 - Life as we know it is limited to tests and observations on one out of 100's of trillions (actually its a much higher # than even that!) of planets that exist in the universe.

#2 - Just because there is certain chems in the soil in one location, doesnt mean its in every region of the planet. Go check soil samples in Antarctica, Africa, Australia, and North America... You will find differences in each.

RE: We presume too much
By rudy on 8/5/2008 1:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that but there are many toxic chemicals and terrible conditions on earth in which bacteria grow, from radio active, to high salt, high temperature, low temperature it simply does not matter the bacteria have evolved ways to deal with it. Either buy converting harmfull substance to inert ones or keeping them out or any number of things. One thing is true though on earth where ever there is energy to be had we can find life that has figured out how to exploit it.

RE: We presume too much
By Oregonian2 on 8/5/2008 1:05:46 PM , Rating: 2
For instance, 2+2=4 is a very basic mathematical truth that never changes regardless of one's position or location in the known universe.

Has this been proven, or is it just assumed or theorized?

RE: We presume too much
By 3dWings on 8/5/2008 2:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
2 + 2 = 11, base 3......

RE: We presume too much
By FITCamaro on 8/5/08, Rating: 0
RE: We presume too much
By radializer on 8/5/2008 9:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
2 + 2 = 5 for very large values of 2


RE: We presume too much
By badmoodguy on 8/7/2008 3:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely every bit of observations fit the model that the universe is the same here as elsewhere. The 2+2=4 is actually a results of symmetries of the universe which also give us conservation of energy, momentum, and other fun stuff. All of which has been tested and no counter example has been seen. It might not be so, but you might turn to stone by reading this also. 'Might happen' is usually indistinguishable from impossible even though it isn't impossible.

The 2+2=4 example also assumes a basic common working standard. Kind of like the idea the letters I'm using to say something mean to you what it does to me.

But hey, people believe that an invisible zombie in the sky wants them to eat his flesh, so observation only goes so far these days.

RE: We presume too much
By Oregonian2 on 8/8/2008 2:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely every bit of observations fit the model that the universe is the same here as elsewhere.

Uh... what percentage of the universe's volume have these theories been observed from and tested in? What's earth's volume (or to be generous, our solar system's)?

RE: We presume too much
By Steve Guilliot on 8/5/2008 1:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
Unlike arriving at your "elemental truth", we don't have to be omniscient to know that 2+2=4.

Conditions favorable for life are dependent on chemistry and temperature, which are determined by each planet's environment. We (and this includes you) only have experience with life here on Earth.

RE: We presume too much
By foolsgambit11 on 8/5/2008 5:15:24 PM , Rating: 1
For instance, 2+2=4 is a very basic mathematical truth that never changes regardless of one's position or location in the known universe.

"You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

The truth of 2+2=4 depends greatly upon your interpretation of the symbols used. The first step to agreeing that 2+2=4 is agreeing on the meaning of the symbols '2', '4', '+', and '='. More importantly, realizing that "II et II est IV" is an equally valid manner of arriving at the same conclusion, or "..&..->....".

When people assume that we are alive (I know, that's a self-defeating statement, making an assumption is an act of life), it is like ascribing only one meaning to '+', and refusing to acknowledge that it is also the symbol of the Red Cross, or the Swiss, or 'x' turned 45 degrees. Under another interpretation of our basic molecular actions, perhaps we should not be seen as alive.

When people assume that life is only life if it follows a certain established pattern, it is like refusing to acknowledge that you can represent "The combination of a pair of pairs is a quartet" any way other than "2+2=4"

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