Mars May Hold Nutrients for Life

on July 5, 2008

If off-season vegetables shipped in from far-away places are getting too expensive, perhaps it won’t be too long before vegetables will come straight from Mars!

Okay, to call the above just a stretch would be a stretch in itself! Nonetheless, data from NASA’s Phoenix lander suggests that Mars would be hospitable for some forms of life—including asparagus, most notably.

Phoenix tested a sample of Martian dirt and determined that the dirt contained several elements, including potassium, magnesium, and chlorine, though the soil was quite alkaline (with a pH between eight and nine). “This is the type of soil you’d probably have in your backyard,” explained Sam Kounaves of Tufts University. “You might be able to grow asparagus pretty well, but probably not strawberries,” Kounaves added. (Strawberries grow better in acidic soil.)

Phoenix’s main mission is to search Mars for signs of life, and so it’s no surprise that the discovery of these nutrients has been quickly hailed as “promising signs” of habitability. However, Phoenix cannot test for carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, which are necessary for life. In other words, as Kounaves emphasized, Phoenix didn’t find anything that would preclude life—but, of course, that’s a far cry from finding actual evidence for life!

Furthermore, as scientists have known, the top layer of Martian soil is exposed to high levels of ultraviolet radiation, so that layer may not be hospitable regardless of the nutrients. But don’t give up hope, evolutionists! “There could be microbes living meters and meters underground,” Kounaves added.

Thus, this new finding falls in line with the bulk of our research on the Red Planet: though it doesn’t prove the possibility of life, it doesn’t disprove it, either—and thus evolutionists use it as a basis for clinging to the hope that evidence of life may some day be found (and prove an evolutionary origin for life on Mars and elsewhere).

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