Friday, June 27, 2008

Mars has Dirt!

Not to be trite, but some of the headlines and quotes have been amusing. "You might be able to grow asparagus in it." What makes this important is that there was no guarantee that the geology on Mars would produce anything like the mix of ingredients we find on earth. Just look at our Moon, which allegedly comes from the same crustal material we farm here on Earth. As emphasized in the BBC story and one from CNN linked below, the soil is mildly alkaline. Bad for azaleas and citrus, but great for lots of other plants and containing the trace elements useful for simple cellular life forms on earth.

(By the way, if you want a clickable image for a high resolution look at the "clumps of rosy red soil", you should use the ones on the main Phoenix news site. You can also follow Phoenix's exploits on its Twitter page.)

Buried in some stories of this important discovery (but prominent in the MSNBC story, which links to a nice little article on is the HOW it was done. Wet chemistry on another planet!

Hey, it is hard enough to do wet chemistry in an intro chemistry lab!

I am really impressed with the work of what I assume is a team of analytical chemists (the folks who focus on developing instrumentation) from my limited knowledge through a grad school friend who is an analytical chem PhD working in the medical field.

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