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

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the red-led-redemption dept.

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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Didn't... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 4 years ago | (#33469148)

...Bugs Bunny already find life on Mars?

Re:Didn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33469302)

If so, why the hell wasn't David Bowie informed?

Re:Didn't... (3, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 4 years ago | (#33469334)

The rovers already did [ahajokes.com] ! And you ain't gonna like it.

Re:Didn't... (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 4 years ago | (#33472456)

No. It found him while looking for the Illudium Space Modulator.

Perchlorate (5, Informative)

cinereaste (1241082) | about 4 years ago | (#33469172)

Big typos: it should read perchlorate, not percholate.

Re:Perchlorate (2, Funny)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33469964)

Big typos: it should read perchlorate, not percholate.

Damn, I was hoping it was a typo for perchocolate

Re:Perchlorate (2, Funny)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | about 4 years ago | (#33469984)

Damn, I was hoping they were making coffee.

Re:Perchlorate (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 years ago | (#33477710)

Nah. Once is a typo. Doing this the same way twice is not a typo, it's a misspelling. By someone who doesn't know what a perchlorate is.

I for one... (1)

piratePenguin (885033) | about 4 years ago | (#33469226)

Welcome our new percholates overlords.

Re:I for one... (1)

xOneca (1271886) | about 4 years ago | (#33469666)

Welcome our new perchlorate overlords.

FTFY.

perchlorate is rocket fuel (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about 4 years ago | (#33469236)

So, the soil on Mars has rocket fuel in it. You could probably even go there and make rockets.

Re:perchlorate is rocket fuel (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33469400)

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.

In a related story, the article also reported that perchlorates would mask complicated organic molecules by breaking them down when the soil samples were heated up for testing, not that they were evidence for anything. So that's funny, too.

Re:perchlorate is rocket fuel (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 4 years ago | (#33469754)

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.

Percholates? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33469288)

Wouldn't those be perchlorates?

Perchlorates not percholates (1, Redundant)

anwaya (574190) | about 4 years ago | (#33469304)

TFA has perchlorates.

They should try piratebay (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33469330)

You can find all the seasons there.

Both FAs are good (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33469414)

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.

I remember them arguing about this in the 1970s (2, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 years ago | (#33469498)

The tests were not precise to discern living chemical reactions or over-oxidized soils.

BS in Martian clouds (0, Troll)

noshellswill (598066) | about 4 years ago | (#33469542)

Well of-course there is no life on Mars ... and never has been. Ever. All that BS in the Martian atmosphere in no way implies herds of Martian buffalo thundering across Martian plains. Oh no! No in'juns either. That fresh BS has an earth-wise source of grant-hungry **high frontier** exploiters.

Boom powder (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#33469770)

My daddy used to mix up potassium perchlorate and sulfur, and then stuff it into tin foil, about the size of a silver dollar. Then he would hit it with a sledge hammer, and, that noise will wake the neighbors!

So if Mars is packed with this stuff ... I'll be the first one to volunteer to go there.

NASA loading officer: "Um, sir, why are taking a sledge hammer, and a roll of tin foil on the mission to Mars?"

Me: "It's for some kind of, um, experiment, or something like that."

Looking for life on Mars? Who cares? Let's just blow the damned place up!

Bombing the Moon looks pretty wimpy compared to the potential that we have here.

Re:Boom powder (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33469990)

My daddy used to mix up potassium perchlorate and sulfur, and then stuff it into tin foil, about the size of a silver dollar. Then he would hit it with a sledge hammer, and, that noise will wake the neighbors!

Your daddy must have been great fun at parties...

Re:Boom powder (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#33470268)

At least we now know why Yazeran [slashdot.org] wants to go to Mars with a hammer. Perchlorate poppers!

Should be easy (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 4 years ago | (#33470024)

It should be easy to find life on mars. Just look for the spaceports that they used when they attacked Earth in 1938. Just in case, they should have a Slim Whitman record on hand.

How much do we know about the 1976 experiments? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33470120)

That's a serious question for the /. space geeks. The original Mars missions have been poster boys for bit rot and format obsolescence. Tales that the current missions had to rely on finding paper printouts that retired scientists hadn't thrown out yet. But it's always anecdotal. What's the true story with citable references?

Life on Mars (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | about 4 years ago | (#33470600)

That's good - I've been wondering what John Simm has been up to lately.
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