Martian Soil More Toxic To Life Than Before

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"Our observations show that the actual surface of Mars is very harmful to the cells, under the effect of a toxic cocktail of oxidizing agents, perchlorates and UV rays", noted the researchers. Science fiction authors have been imagining life on Mars for generations, and scientists have been looking for signs of life on the red planet for decades.

The chances of finding aliens may be impossible, if new research is to be believed. Since then, other spacecraft have confirmed the presence of the compounds.

Two other types of chemicals found on Mars' surface, iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide, can compound the effect of perchlorates, the study noted. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have now confirmed that conditions on Mars-especially the presence of perchlorates, a form of chlorine-make it nearly impossible for microbes to live on the surface of the planet. On Mars, perchlorates allow water to exist in a briny liquid form despite the planet's low atmospheric pressure. It turned out that in combination with ultraviolet radiation, the toxicity of the compounds increases, making them deadly for microorganisms. When these chemicals are combined with the perchlorates and blasted with UV light, they kill bacteria 11 times faster than UV light alone. But when the researchers added UV light to the mix, the test tube was completely sterilized within 30 seconds. According to the latest research that was published in Scientific Reports, the martian surface may actually be toxic to bacteria. This makes the surface "microbe-killers".

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If the salty brines trickling across the rocks on Mars really are concentrated perchlorate streams, that's not an environment fit for sustaining life. A least we don't have to fear that we will accidentally contaminate Mars with Earth bacteria which could potentially outcompete the native organisms.

"If we want to find life on Mars, we have to take this into consideration and look at trying to find sub-surface life that wouldn't be exposed to these conditions", Wadsworth AFP. After finding out it could be activated, we tested it under various Martian environmental conditions such as a lack of oxygen and cold temperatures. "We show the bacteriocidal effects of UV-irradiated perchlorates provide yet further evidence that the surface of Mars is lethal to vegetative cells and renders much of the surface and near-surface regions uninhabitable".

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