Mars Was Too Salty for Life

Rock analysis shows even microbes couldn't have survived in planet's early history
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2008 7:58 AM CST
This image provided by NASA shows NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as it begins examine a group of angular rocks given informal names corresponding to peaks in the Colorado Rockies. Spirit used its...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Hopes that Mars may once have supported life have taken a blow with the discovery that the planet has been too salty for life for much of its history, the BBC reports. "It was salty enough that only a handful of known terrestrial organisms would have a ghost of a chance of surviving there when conditions were at their best," a member of NASA's Mars rover team said.

The Opportunity rover has been on Mars for months analyzing rocks. The results show that in Mars' watery early history, the environment was too salty and acidic for even the toughest micro-organisms. The search for Martians will continue when the Phoenix lander arrives near the planet's north pole in May to look under the frozen surface for evidence of life.