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Martian soil found to contain lethal chemicals that can destroy life

The surface and atmosphere of Mars (NASA)The chances of discovering life on Mars have fallen following the discovery that the soil on the Red Planet contains toxic chemicals capable of wiping out living organisms. Experiments show that when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun, chlorine compounds in the Martian soil are “activated”, turning them into bacteria killers. A more hospitable environment for microbes may lie two or three metres beneath the surface, where the soil is shielded from intense radiation. "At those depths, it’s possible Martian life may survive," said Jennifer Wadsworth, an astrobiologist carrying out the research along with Charles Cockell at Edinburgh University, Scotland.


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