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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 13:58 EDT

Mineral Nutrients Found on Mars

June 28, 2008

U.S. scientists said soil on Mars appears to be alkaline enough to support plant life.

Samuel P. Kounaves of Tufts University said soil found by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Phoenix Mars lander has enough nutrients to grow a plant such as asparagus, The New York Times reported Friday.

We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past, present or future, Kounaves told reporters. The sort of soil you have there is the type of soil you’d probably have in your backyard.

While high levels of ultraviolet radiation and cold, dry conditions on Mars make life unlikely, the planet may have been more habitable in the past, the newspaper said.

Kounaves said the soil was similar to soil found in parts of Antarctica.