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October 3 2013

Toxic Mars Chemical Throws Wrench Into Search for Red Planet Life


Astronauts sent to Mars on future space missions may have to contend with a toxic chemical known as perchlorate that's thought to be widespread in Red Planet dirt. But perchlorates are already proving problematic for researchers using robots to hunt for possible traces of Martian life, a new study has found.

As part of its science mission, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity heats up scoops of Red Planet dirt to test for organic carbon compounds the building blocks of life on Earth.

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