Toxin in soil may mean no life on Mars CNN

NASA’s Phoenix lander has discovered a toxic chemical in soil near Mars’ north pole, dimming hopes for finding life on the Red Planet, the probe’s operators said Monday. The chemical, perchlorate, is an oxidant widely used in solid rocket fuel. Researchers are still puzzling over the results and checking to make sure the perchlorate wasn’t carried to Mars from Earth, the University of Arizona-based science team said.
“While we have not completed our process on these soil samples, we have very interesting intermediate results,” Peter Smith, the principal investigator for the project, said in a written statement.
Early readings from a device aboard Phoenix called the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, “suggested Earth-like soil,” Smith said.
“Further analysis has revealed un-Earthlike aspects of the soil chemistry,” he said.
The Phoenix team has scheduled a teleconference for Tuesday to discuss the findings.