Salty pools may exist on Mars

March 25th, 2009 - 2:03 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 25 (ANI): NASAs Phoenix Lander has shown the presence of perchlorate salts in Martian soil, which can keep water liquid at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius, leading scientists to suggest that briny pools may exist just below the surface of Mars.

According to a report by BBC News, pockets of brine might form when soil interacted with ice.

I do think those pools might exist. But theres still more to know about the properties of these perchlorate solutions, such as what their vapour pressure is, Dr Mike Hecht, from NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, explained.

Phoenix used thrusters to slow its descent to the surface, which blew away topsoil, exposing water-ice just centimeters beneath.

Here are all these perchlorate salts right under them, by a few centimeters, is a slab of (water ice). It doesnt take much of a stretch of the imagination to say that those two materials will interact, said Dr Hecht.

And once you get dampness, the perchlorate is very soluble and it will become mobile, he added.

On Earth, perchlorates - salts derived from perchloric acid - are used in solid rocket fuel, fireworks and airbags.

Scientists are just starting to understand the important roles they may play on Mars.

According to Dr Hecht, forming pockets of liquid on Mars would require just the right concentrations of perchlorate salts.

In this case, we have very little perchlorate and vast slabs of ice, so I can imagine we have an excess of water. This means you would form a pool of low temperature brine if the two ever interacted, he said.

Dr Hecht said that the discovery of these compounds made the Red Planet seem more Earth-like in several respects. (ANI)

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