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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mars Soil Can Support Plant Life

According to NASA scientists, Phoenix has finished its first soil sample shows Mars' soil could grow vegetables, like a asparagus. Samuel Kounaves, the project's lead chemist said, "The soil you have there is the type of soil you have in your backyard[.]"

With CO2, ice, and good soil, does some form of plant life exists on Mars presently? I am of the opinion that life is resilient and will continue if there is any way possible. Seems to be a way possible to me...


John Umana said...

Impressive achievement for the Phoenix Mission. But don’t break out the champagne yet. The Phoenix Lander last week conducted its first wet chemical analysis through its Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA), which mixes the soil sample with water and bakes the mud to 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit to test for chemical composition. The results show the martian soil had a pH between 8 and 9, meaning it is alkaline — the kind of soil you could grow vegetables in if you brought it back to Earth, tossed in some cow manure, and watered regularly. MECA detected the presence of magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride but no organic carbon, the crucial ingredient necessary for life on Earth (alright, maybe silicon might also work). Interestingly, JPL tells us that the mineral content of the soil is not much different from the upper dry valleys in Antarctica. What Phoenix’ wet chemical analysis (still ongoing) shows is that there is no life in the soil sample tested by MECA. They’re going to dig down further in the next few days. The Phoenix Lander’s follow-the-water strategy for searching for organic compounds is, however, exactly the right strategy for NASA or other space agencies to pursue. Here’s a hint -- if tomorrow we could land the Phoenix Lander or Mars Science Laboratory on Enceladus or Titan or any other body in this sun system, the test results would show that there is no life in this sun system other than on Earth. It takes more than liquid water for life to emerge. But the Milky Way galaxy is teeming with life and with intelligent life, but light years from Earth. “The truth is out there.”

Frank said...

This was great news for the future of Mars settlement efforts. Now wouldn't it be cool to follow this mission up with a sample return mission that included the ice from Mars?

John Umana said...

Great idea -- "In the second decade of the 21st century, NASA plans a Mars Sample Return mission that would ... collect and send samples of martian rocks, soils, and atmosphere to Earth for detailed chemical and physical analysis. Researchers on Earth could measure chemical and physical characteristics much more precisely than they could by remote control. On Earth, they would have the flexibility to make changes as needed for intricate sample preparation, instrumentation, and analysis if they encountered unexpected results. In addition, for decades to come, the collected Mars rocks could yield new discoveries as future generations of researchers apply new technologies in studying them." But I don't expect that Earth-based scientists will find any sign of past or present life on Mars, that is, anywhere on Mars.