Mars News

There was a bit of buzz this weekend about something in the Phoenix lander’s chemical analysis of the martian soil. It turns out that this something is the detection of perchlorate (ClO4). Right now, the team is working to ensure that the perchlorate is not a contaminant from the lander itself, as perchlorate is used as an oxidizer in rocket fuel; though this is unlikely given the depth of the sample and the kind of rockets used by Phoenix (ultrapure hydrazine). This indicates a significant chemical difference between martian and terrestrial soils. Further, the presence of such a highly reactive oxidizing agent would make the martian soil much less habitable.
[via Scientific American]

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