Washington DC (AFP) Jun 27, 2008 Martian dirt is apparently good enough for asparagus to grow in, NASA scientists said Thursday, as they announced the results of a soil analysis collected by the US Phoenix Mars lander. "There is nothing about the soil that would preclude life. In fact it seems very friendly," said Samuel Kounaves, the project's lead chemist at the University of Arizona in a telephone press conference.
"The soil you have there is the type of soil you have in your backyard," said Kounaves. "You may be able to grow asparagus very well."
The analysis is based on a cubic centimeter of soil scooped up by the lander's robotic arm and introduced into one of its eight ovens, where it was gradually heated up to 1,000 degrees Celsius.
Kounaves said his team was "flabbergasted" at the results that came back.
"We basically have found what appears to be the requirements of the nutrients to support life, past, present or future," said Kounaves.
MSNBC.com reports that while it would be good for asparagus growing, it wouldn't do well for strawberries. The soil is a bit too alkaline.