Now that the glitches caused by the Martian soil's clumpy consistency have been shaken out, the Phoenix Lander has been able to cook up a few samples to test the soil composition. The preliminary results are surprising even to the chemists at work on the project: the soil is alkaline, and much more so than anyone expected. The analysis has found trace amounts of magnesium, sodium, potassium, and other elements similar to those in the soil on Earth. On first pass, Martian dirt appears to be non-toxic and laden with the basic nutrients necessary to support life. One compound that has not been found, however, is organic carbon, which is a critical component in the formation of life.