Terraforming Mars may have to wait yet a while longer.
The Martian surface is covered in UV-activated chemicals that inhibit the development of any lifeforms, as recent tests of the topsoil have shown.
ESA’s Exomars rover will now begin digging under Mars’ toxic surface, searching for any proof of current or past life on the planet.
Recent tests conducted on Martial soil have confirmed that oxidant compounds known as perchlorates permeate the the Red Planet’s surface.
Perchlorates are highly oxidized forms of chlorine, a chemical commonly used in household cleaning products and also as a disinfectant in swimming pools. The downside of it is that at high concentrations, chlorine is extremely toxic. It was weaponised and used as a chemical warfare agent during the First World War, for example.