Mars Soil May Be Toxic to Microbes

The Martian surface may be even less hospitable to life than scientists had thought.

These compounds, known as perchlorates, seem to be widespread in the Martian dirt; several NASA missions have detected them at a variety of locations. Perchlorates have some characteristics that would appear to boost the Red Planet’s habitability. They drastically lower the freezing point of water, for example, and they offer a potential energy source for microorganisms, scientists have said.

The bacterial cells lost viability within minutes in Mars-like conditions, the researchers found.


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