“You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well.”

The official NASA Phoenix site hasn’t revealed the results of the analysis of Martian soil by the wet chemistry laboratory yet but, according to an RTE report, the very preliminary findings are good flabbergasting. And, given that we know there is, specifically, water ice there.. Oops Meant to add, why the dichotomy on Mars? Adds MarsPhoenix twitter confirms “friendly” dirt.

“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past present or future,” Sam Kounaves, the lead investigator for the wet chemistry laboratory, told journalists. “It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well. It is very exciting for us. We were all flabbergasted at the data we got back,” Kounaves added. The scientists would not go as far as saying they now believe that life, even mere microbes, definitively existed on Mars, saying the results were very preliminary and more analysis was needed. “There is nothing about the soil that would preclude life. In fact it seems very friendly…there is nothing about it that is toxic,” Kounaves said.

Adds It’s a treasure trove! – “We are awash in chemistry data”.Adds Interesting point about that dichotomy on Mars.

“The dichotomy is arguably the oldest feature on Mars,” Dr Aharonson explained. The feature arose more than four billion years ago, before the rest of the planet’s complex geological history was superimposed.”

This was about the same time that a much bigger object slammed into the Earth, throwing material into orbit around our infant planet. This material is thought to have coalesced to form the Moon.

Indeed, the coincidence in timing of the formation of our Moon and the Mars dichotomy is probably not coincidental.

“It happened probably right at the end of the formation of the four terrestrial planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars,” said Craig Agnor, a co-author on the Francis Nimmo study.

He told BBC News: “We think the planets formed out of a disc of rocks. As the rocks collide, you get bigger rocks and so on. Eventually, you end up with four planets and a lot of rocks – of various sizes.

“In terms of the process of the planets sweeping up the last bits of debris, this could have been one of the last big bits of debris.”

Shock waves from the impact would travel through the planet and disrupt the crust on the other side, causing changes in the magnetic field recorded there.

The predicted changes are consistent with observations of magnetic anomalies in the southern hemisphere, according to Dr Nimmo.

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  • Rory

    I already have asparagus in the freezer, Pete and little jars in salted water in the store cupboard and some coming on on the allotmenta nd the supermarket and the local street markets and the farmers’ markets are going large with bloody asparagus. Mars – who needs it already?

  • Pete Baker

    Rory

    “Mars – who needs it already?”

    Indeed..

  • Dewi

    A new plantation ?

  • Dewi

    Six counties and a planet? Enough – sorry – Nos Da.

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    The topic here is about somewhere else entirely.

    Try to keep the lazy comments for.. well.. your own blog, preferably.

  • Dewi

    Yeah sorry Pete – off home! (on my jetpack!)

  • hotdogx

    This is very interesting as it shows that the basics are already there for a terraforming effort, with special greenhouses on the surface for example. The problem is the atmospheric pressure is so low. Only 10mb as opposed to 1000mb on earth. If the pressure was just half that of earth we could walk around on the surface with just a breathing apparatus not even a space suit according to the experts. This is very interesting. This is along way off as we are still limited by the use of chemical propulsion systems which limit enormously our human exploration of space.

  • RG Cuan

    Very intersting indeed, thanks for the info Pete!

    we are still limited by the use of chemical propulsion systems which limit enormously our human exploration of space

    What is the future alternative – nano power maybe?

  • Rory

    Are you quite sure about all this, Pete? There’s nothing about it in the Bible. I think I’ll e-mail Iris and check it out.

  • Nestor Makhno

    RG Culan: ‘What is the future alternative – nano power maybe?’

    There is a simple and readily available source of power for space propulsion that’s been around since the 1950s – nuclear fission.

    Either: (i) use a small reactor to power a plasma rocket engine; or (ii) (slightly more left field!) explode small fission bombs behind a blast plate.

    The second seems insane but the US military had quite advanced plans for such a system (Google ‘Orion project’)

    It would be a good way to use up all those dangerous warheads left over from the cold war… And no need to worry about spreading radioactive material in space -when it’s already full of the stuff. (Getting them into orbit is the only big worry.)

    Interesting detail on Mars. I remember reading somewhere that the presence of an oxygen atmosphere here on earth may be due to the presence of life rather than a pre-requisite for it (ie, life creates an oxygen atmosphere).

    Any thoughts on that, Peter?

  • ggn

    Does anyone have any moral issues with the terra-formation of Mars?

    I mean if any form of life exists there whatsoever, do we have any right to destroy it so that we can take over the planet?

    Having said that I suppose given the fact that entire peoples were exterminated like animals in order to accomdate imperialism, I guess the answer would be no.

  • kensei

    ggn

    Everyone knows if there are microbacterial life on Mars that when we try and colonise the planet zombie space rage will be contracted from it, and all the colonists will be horribly wiped out.

  • ggn

    kensei,

    I detect a primitive attempt at humor.

    But if microbacterial life exists on Mars, of course we have no idea how that life would react with the human body.

    This life would clearly have to be eliminated, but how do we know that it doesnt have the potential to evolve into something we consider more worthy?

    I believe that has happened here though clearly Christians disagree.

  • Nestor Makhno

    There is a theory that microbes from Mars (via meteorites) may have brought life to earth.

    So the martians may have actually terra-formed Earth four billion years ago.

    I’d say it’s pay back time.

  • kensei

    ggn

    But if microbacterial life exists on Mars, of course we have no idea how that life would react with the human body.

    Actually, it is extremely unlikely to do anything with us, unless we have more shared genetic history than we think. Most viruses and bacteria have developed in tandem with us — that’s how they can attack our specific protein or cell structures etc.

    This life would clearly have to be eliminated, but how do we know that it doesnt have the potential to evolve into something we consider more worthy?

    I don’ think we can make judgments on a billions of years time scale. The interaction of earth DNA in a Martian environment could also produce worthy life: perhaps more likely to. We aren’t talking about a level of life if it even exists, that can even feel, let alone think.

  • Wilde Rover

    Interesting take on the Mars Direct plan here:

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/65/1

    Then again, there always seems to be enough money for weapons you probably don’t need and really shouldn’t use and never enough for the space travel that might come in handy the next time this planet rolls across to the wrong side of the galactic tracks.

  • ggn

    kensei,

    Back off you Terran Imperialist!

    But seriously, do you remember ‘War of the Worlds’ – not the Tam Cruise version bTW