'You Might Be Able to Grow Asparagus' on Mars

'Flabbergasted' scientists see soil able to support life on red planet
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2008 4:47 PM CDT
The path the Phoenix Mars Lander took to Mars.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Samples of Martian soil analyzed by instruments onboard the Phoenix lander have earth-bound scientists “flabbergasted.” Why? Readings indicate that the extraterrestrial loam could, perhaps has, and possibly will, support life, Reuters reports. Along with ice the lander discovered earlier, “We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life,” a scientist said.

The results are shocking, mostly because mission personnel had expected the Martian dirt to be far more acidic than it appears to be. “It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well,” one "flabbergasted" scientist remarked. Needless to say, that “is very exciting for us.”