In a major setback to scientists planning to set up human colonies on Mars, it has been revealed in a study that the Martian soil may be too toxic to support life forms. Scientists had planned to grow plants on Mars to sustain human life, but with so much toxicity in the Martian soil, it appears that scientists will now have to start thinking about other alternatives. The study was carried out at the University of Edinburgh in the UK and it involved the study of chemical compounds called perchlorates that are found on Mars’ surface. The study found that when these chemicals were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, it killed all types of bacteria.
The study also found that perchlorates have even more toxic effects when mixed with iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide. These are the chemicals found in Martian soil. When mixed together, the resulting compound was 10 times more toxic to bacteria. Speaking about the findings of the study, Jennifer Wadsworth from Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy said, “Our findings have important implications for the possible contamination of Mars with bacteria and other materials from space missions. This should be taken into account in designing missions to Mars.”