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Mars Space Science

New and Old Experiments Combine To Help the Search For Life On Mars 26

Posted by Soulskill
from the red-led-redemption dept.
jamie sends in a story about an unexpected finding by the Phoenix Mars Lander which has shed new light on experiments done by the Viking landers back in 1976. The Viking experiments found traces of chlorine compounds that were interpreted to be the result of contamination from cleaning fluids on Earth. In 2008, an experiment done by Phoenix found percholates in the soil, which came as a surprise to researchers. After doing tests on similar soil from Chile, a new study has found that those percholates, paired with organic molecules, could very well be the source of the chlorine compounds detected by Viking. While this is not direct evidence for life on Mars, the fact that complex organic compounds can apparently persist in the Martian soil gives researchers a new avenue to pursue while looking for that evidence.
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New and Old Experiments Combine To Help the Search For Life On Mars

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:22PM (#33469400)

    Perchlorate is an ion. You are thinking of potassium or sodium perchlorate. The article reported that perchlorate ions were detected, not necessarily what they were bound to.

    In a related story, the article also reported that perchlorates would mask complicated organic molecules by breaking them down when the soil samples were heated up for testing, not that they were evidence for anything. So that's funny, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @04:28PM (#33470120)

    That's a serious question for the /. space geeks. The original Mars missions have been poster boys for bit rot and format obsolescence. Tales that the current missions had to rely on finding paper printouts that retired scientists hadn't thrown out yet. But it's always anecdotal. What's the true story with citable references?

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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