Research professor Vincent F. Chevrier and graduate students Jennifer Hanley and Travis S. Altheide report their findings in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Their work provides the first demonstration of a potential stable liquid on present-day Mars in the immediate environment of the lander.
“Under real, observed Martian conditions, you can have a stable liquid,” said Chevrier.
The researchers studied the properties of sodium and magnesium perchlorates, salts detected by the Phoenix lander, under the temperature, pressure and humidity conditions found at the landing site. The discovery of perchlorates on Mars by the Phoenix mission surprised scientists – the compounds are rare on Earth, found mostly in extremely arid environments such as the Atacama Desert in Chile.
The scientists studied the properties of these salts at varying temperatures using the Andromeda Chamber in the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Space Simulation – a chamber that can imitate the pressure and atmospheric conditions found on Mars. They also performed thermodynamic calculations to determine the state of salt and water combinations on the Martian surface and to see if there was any potential for liquid to be found.
The extreme temperatures found on Mars typically lead to either crystallization or evaporation of water, making it difficult to imagine that water could be found in liquid form. However, salts have been shown to lower the freezing point of water – which is why street crews use salt on the roads to melt ice, Hanley said. Some salts, like perchlorates, lower the freezing point substantially. It turns out that the temperature for the liquid phase of magnesium perchlorate – 206 degrees Kelvin – is a temperature found on Mars at the Phoenix landing site. Based on temperature findings from the Phoenix lander, conditions would allow this perchlorate solution to be present in liquid form for a few hours each day during the summer.
“The window for liquid is very small,” Hanley said. Nevertheless, this finding further supports the possibility of finding life on Mars.
“You don’t necessarily need to have a lot of water to have life,” Chevrier said. “But you need liquid water at some point.”
The Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences is jointly sponsored by the J. William Fulbright College of Sciences and the College of Engineering.CONTACTS:
World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered
18.01.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
A close-up look at an uncommon underwater eruption
11.01.2018 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy