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Mars Space Science

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

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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  • Both FAs are good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday September 03, 2010 @04:23PM (#33469414) Homepage Journal

    Guys, with this one you really need to RTFAs.

    "This doesn't say anything about the question of whether or not life has existed on Mars, but it could make a big difference in how we look for evidence to answer that question," said Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center.

  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @04:51PM (#33469754) Journal

    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.

    So? It's the reduction of the perchlorate that produces the energy needed for propulsion. This is the energy-intensive part of the fuel. Not to say that the cation is unimportant to the fuel characteristics...

    And likely he was thinking of ammonium perchlorate, anyway.

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