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.