NASA says Martian soil could sustain life

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The scientists behind the Mars Phoenix Lander project announced that the soil on Mars was more alkaline than expected and could sustain life.

Scientists at NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration claimed that they were "flabbergasted" by their discovery on the possibility that life could grow on Martian soil.

Thermal and evolved gas analyzer, used to determine alkaline content on Martian soil.
Image: NASA.

"It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well. ... It is very exciting for us," said Sam Kounaves, the lead wet chemist at NASA.

The project did not elaborate any further if there was indeed life on Mars, down to the microbe level and instead stated that their discovery was only preliminary and more analysis will be needed.

There was still no evidence in the soil that "would preclude life," and instead of an assumption of a toxic environment, Martian soil is actually, "very friendly."

The discovery was made after the Mars Phoenix Lander scooped up Martian soil for analysis. The lander touched down on Mars on May 25, 2008 and has been conducting several survey projects.


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