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The Dirt on Mars' Soil: More Suitable for Life Than Thought

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posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 12:18 PM
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The Dirt on Mars' Soil: More Suitable for Life Than Thought


The soil on Mars may be more capable of supporting life than previously thought, a new study suggests.

Researchers have long suspected that the Martian surface is packed full of oxidizing compounds, which could make it difficult for complex molecules like organic chemicals — the building blocks of life as we know it — to exist. But the new study, which analyzed data gathered by NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander, suggests that's not the case.

"Although there may be some small amounts of oxidants in the soil, the bulk material is actually quite benign," said lead study author Richard Quinn of NASA's Ames Research Center and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif. "It's very similar to moderate soils that we find on Earth."

Digging in the Martian dirt

Astrobiologists have long been interested in characterizing soils on Mars, to help determine whether life could ever have gotten a foothold on the Red Planet. [5 Bold Claims of Alien Life ]

NASA's $420 million Phoenix mission has given them a lot to ponder in this regard. The Phoenix lander touched down near the Martian north pole in late May 2008, then gathered a variety of observations for the next five months.

Phoenix is most famous for confirming the existence of water ice on Mars, but it also made a lot of interesting soil measurements. One of those was the Mars dirt's acidity, or pH, level.

"People really didn't know what the pH was going to be," Quinn told SPACE.com. "A lot of people believed that the soils would be very acidic."

But just a month or so into its mission, Phoenix found that the dirt at its landing site was mildly basic, with a pH around 7.7. The lander also detected several chemicals that could serve as nutrients for life-forms, including magnesium, potassium and chloride.

These discoveries intrigued scientists, suggesting that Martian soil is perhaps more hospitable to microbial life than they had thought. And the new results provide further evidence along those lines.




posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 12:20 PM
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We are certainly seeing a huge uptick in terms of the possibilities for life outside of Earth itself. The speed in which these announcements are coming is speeding up as well. We still dont know about all of the life on this planet, yet the headlines on those discoveries are giving way to off world possibilities.

Building blocks of life on comets / asteroids
Water on the Moon
Water on Mars
Water and possible signs of microbial life on Titan
Discovery of ancient microbial life on earth that existed at a time when this planet was still volcanic, hot and incapable of supporting life as we know it.

Fun times...



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 12:21 PM
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First the salty water, now the soil is nicely balanced.

Come on, make with the microbial life announcement already, we know thats where this is going. :-)



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 12:48 PM
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Once life gets a foothold, it's almost impossible to exterminate. Sure you can get rid of a few dozen species, but trying to get rid of all the microbes that live in the air and in solid rock is almost impossible.

If there ever was life on Mars, you can bet there are still living organisms there now. You might have to go digging, but they would still be there, thriving.

I remember a theory about how to terraform Mars and heat it up where all you would have to do is get water flowing on the surface. And since the soil is so acidic it would start releasing sulfur and other green house gasses. Guess they'll have to come up with something else now.
edit on 23-8-2011 by SilentNoise because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 01:04 PM
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posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 01:04 PM
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Definition of irony:

- America sends a rover to Mars to collect samples
- Rover accidentally deposits bacteria from earth on the Mars surface while analyzing soil
- Bacteria thrives in the new environment, eventually an ecosystem forms followed by larger living creatures and eventually eons pass and intelligent life develops
- The intelligent life starts scanning it's star system for other signs of life and finds none, assumes it's alone
- Eventually the intelligent life sends satellites to orbit distant planets in the same solar system and is shocked when one of them returns photos of abandoned steel structures, pyramids and roadways, all apparently intelligently made

Thus we create the very conspiracy that we've wondered is the source of life on earth (IE, seeding from another planet)



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 01:56 PM
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I think the "powers that be" fully know Mars has water, lakes, rivers, forests, plants, atmosphere, oxygen, and ancient, and current advanced civilization. They are just leaking it bit by bit.



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 02:06 PM
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reply to post by tom502
 


You know that you can see Mars from here right? Some of that might be plausible, but I think it would be too easy to spot most of those for the rest of us not to know about it by now.



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 02:08 PM
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Some say humans populated Earth but came from Mars.

Some say Mars was in a different orbit, and the asteroid belt was a planet that got impacted.

Some say the deep grooves on Mars are infact plasma scorth lines, from close planetary proximities in the past.



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 03:20 PM
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Originally posted by tom502
I think the "powers that be" fully know Mars has water, lakes, rivers, forests, plants, atmosphere, oxygen, and ancient, and current advanced civilization. They are just leaking it bit by bit.


Being Mars is close enough to be viewed by amateur's with decent telescopes on this planet, I dont think the secret will remain so for long.

Couple that with more and more countries initiating their own space programs, which if you think about that one for a minute is suspicious in and of itself (hmmmm), the harder it iwll be to keep secrets.



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 03:21 PM
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Originally posted by JennaDarling
Some say humans populated Earth but came from Mars.

Some say Mars was in a different orbit, and the asteroid belt was a planet that got impacted.

Some say the deep grooves on Mars are infact plasma scorth lines, from close planetary proximities in the past.



Would certainly raise the possibility of larg ebody impact. Thats one of the theoris about Earth and the moon, with the huge gouge in the Pacific Ocean.



posted on Aug, 24 2011 @ 10:04 AM
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reply to post by SavedOne
 


Actually all probes that have been sent to mars, generally, have been made sterile.


Still a possibility though.



posted on Aug, 24 2011 @ 10:14 AM
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Would i be right in thinking that if the soil on mars could support plant growth of some sort, and there is harldy any oxygen on mars, why not just scatter loads of different seeds up there and see what grows? surely that would (eventually) solve the lack of oxygen




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