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X-ray Diffraction Results from Mars Science Laboratory: Mineralogy of Rocknest at Gale Crater

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      Chemical composition of Martian fines

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        Detection of perchlorate and the soluble chemistry of martian soil at the Phoenix lander site.

        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 approximately 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 approximately 5-centimeter-deep ice table showed no significant difference in soluble chemistry.
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          Volatile, isotope, and organic analysis of martian fines with the Mars Curiosity rover.

          Samples from the Rocknest aeolian deposit were heated to ~835°C under helium flow and evolved gases analyzed by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite. H2O, SO2, CO2, and O2 were the major gases released. Water abundance (1.5 to 3 weight percent) and release temperature suggest that H2O is bound within an amorphous component of the sample. Decomposition of fine-grained Fe or Mg carbonate is the likely source of much of the evolved CO2. Evolved O2 is coincident with the release of Cl, suggesting that oxygen is produced from thermal decomposition of an oxychloride compound. Elevated δD values are consistent with recent atmospheric exchange. Carbon isotopes indicate multiple carbon sources in the fines. Several simple organic compounds were detected, but they are not definitively martian in origin.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]MSL Science Team
            Journal
            Science
            Science
            American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
            0036-8075
            1095-9203
            September 26 2013
            September 26 2013
            : 341
            : 6153
            : 1238932
            10.1126/science.1238932
            © 2013

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