We’ve been exploring Mars for only a few decades or so, and NASA is already planning to move in! They’ve even got their first cash crop picked out: asparagus.
I’m being a tad dramatic. What really happened: Phoenix, NASA’s newest Martian lander, completed a preliminary analysis of the soil surrounding its landing site, and found it very similar to soil on Earth. The soil is alkaline, just like life-friendly soil on the blue planet, and it contains such minerals as magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Nothing toxic has been detected so far. Steve Kounaves, the lead chemist of the Phoenix project, said, “You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well.”
NASA scientists are reportedly “flabbergasted” by this discovery. Soil conditions appear to be far more conducive to life than they had dared to dream. Couple this with the probable presence of large amounts of water ice just beneath the surface at Phoenix’s landing site, and the chances that life may once have existed on Mars improve dramatically.