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Detection of Perchlorate and the Soluble Chemistry of Martian Soil at the Phoenix Lander Site

Science  03 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5936, pp. 64-67
DOI: 10.1126/science.1172466

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Abstract

The Wet Chemistry Laboratory on the Phoenix Mars Lander performed aqueous chemical analyses of martian soil from the polygon-patterned northern plains of the Vastitas Borealis. The solutions contained ~10 mM of dissolved salts with 0.4 to 0.6% perchlorate (ClO4) by mass leached from each sample. The remaining anions included small concentrations of chloride, bicarbonate, and possibly sulfate. Cations were dominated by Mg2+ and Na+, with small contributions from K+ and Ca2+. A moderately alkaline pH of 7.7 ± 0.5 was measured, consistent with a carbonate-buffered solution. Samples analyzed from the surface and the excavated boundary of the ~5-centimeter-deep ice table showed no significant difference in soluble chemistry.

  • Present address: Chemistry Department, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA.

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