The hazards for life on Mars

It’s a tautology to say that Mars isn’t the most friendly environment for human explorers. In addition to the lack of atmosphere, fluctuating temperatures and high levels of cosmic radiation, fierce storms of super-fine Martian dust could present a serious problem for bold pioneers on the Red Planet’s surface. In fact, Mars’ surface is inimical to local lifeforms, too – which is why NASA’s forthcoming Phoenix Lander will be digging beneath the surface in its hunt for indigenous microbial critters.