Don't know if you lot are interested by this sorta stuff but a few days ago there was an interesting story on Slashdot:
It would appear that the US President has been briefed by Phoenix scientists about the discovery of something more 'provocative' than the discovery of water existing on the Martian surface. This news comes just as the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) confirmed experimental evidence for the existence of water in the Mars regolith on Thursday.
This obviously made everyone jump to conclusions, but they actually did find something alittle interesting:
In an update to the little green men story of not-life-on-Mars, NASA has twittered: 'The buzz this weekend was due to an interesting soil chemistry finding, still preliminary, but now avail here:' where 'here' is NASA Spacecraft Analyzing Martian Soil Data. The exciting bit: 'Within the last month, two samples have been analyzed by the Wet Chemistry Lab of the spacecraft's Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, suggesting one of the soil constituents may be perchlorate, a highly oxidizing substance.' Also, 'NASA will hold a media teleconference on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 2 p.m. EDT, to discuss these recent science activities.
Apparently, perchlorate is what they use in rocket fuel AND can be used to create large amounts of oxygen. So basically, after the discovery of frozen water the other day, we now know that Mars contains water and is coated in rocket fuel and the means to create oxygen. Which, I guess means manned missions to Mars are actually becoming closer to being plausible now.