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article imageMars Dirt is Like the Soil in Your Backyard

By KJ Mullins     Jul 10, 2008 in Science
Mars has a salty taste according to the Phoenix lander's first soil tasting. Soil near the north pole of Mars shows that the dirt is similar to what can be found in the average backyard here on Earth.
This is the latest finding that give researchers hope that the planet has favorable conditions for primate life.
At this time Phoenix has yet to find organic carbon though which is considered by scientists the building block of life. But there is ice.
Had that ice been water the scientists may have been jumping up and down. Water is another essential requirement for life.
For Mars to become habitable it would need to have liquid water, a stable energy source and organic, or carbon-containing, compounds.
Still the news from space is very promising.
"There's nothing about it that would preclude life. In fact, it seems very friendly," mission scientist Samuel Kounaves of Tufts University said of the Martian soil tested. "There's nothing about it that's toxic."
The Phoenix is performing tests like chemists here on Earth would be doing with soil. One experiment heated the soil to a high temperature and sniffed the gas finding traces of water vapor.
That proves to scientists that in its past Mars has interacted with water. More soil sample experiments are planned.
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