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Martian soil 'could support life'

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    Posted: 27 Jun 2008 at 8:19pm

Martian soil 'could support life'

Analysis of the soil has surprised and delighted Nasa scientists

Martian soil appears to contain sufficient nutrients to support life - or, at least, asparagus - Nasa scientists believe.

Preliminary analysis by the $420m (£210m) Phoenix Mars Lander mission on the planet's soil found it to be much more alkaline than expected.

Scientists working on the spacecraft project said they were "flabbergasted" by the discovery.

The find has raised hopes conditions on Mars may be favourable for life.


Exciting data

Although he said further tests would have to be conducted, Mr Kounaves said the soil seemed "very friendly… there is nothing about it that is toxic," he said.

We were all flabbergasted at the data we got back
Sam Kounaves
University of Arizona

"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."

As well as being far less acidic than anticipated, the soil was also found to contain traces of magnesium, sodium, potassium and other elements.

"We were all flabbergasted at the data we got back," said Mr Kounaves. "It is very exciting for us."

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