Science and Technology

Researchers Create Soil Catalyst to Make Farming on Mars a Reality

By Becky Ferreira, Vice

Perchlorate, a dangerous chemical compound, is abundant in Martian soil. A new catalyst could help remove this contaminant on Earth, and beyond it.

Humans have dreamed of setting foot on Mars for more than a century, but the inhospitable conditions on the red planet present numerous challenges for future astronauts.

For instance, any Martian explorers hoping to live off the land will have to confront the chemical compound perchlorate, which exists in relatively high concentrations on the planet’s surface. Perchlorate is already known to be a dangerous contaminant here on Earth that can cause serious thyroid and lung problems. This public health issue has inspired efforts to remove it from drinking water, food, and other sources, most of which involve complicated multi-step techniques that may require extreme temperatures and conditions.


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