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In situ detection of boron by ChemCam on Mars

Gasada, Patrick J.; Haldemann, Ethan B.; Wiens, Roger C.; Rapin, William; Bristow, Thomas F.; Bridges, John C.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Clark, Benton; Herkenhoff, Kenneth; Frydenvang, Jens; Lanza, Nina L.; Maurice, Sylvestre; Clegg, Samuel; Delapp, Dorothea M.; Sanford, Veronica L.; Bodine, Madeleine R. and McInroy, Rhonda (2017). In situ detection of boron by ChemCam on Mars. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(17) pp. 8739–8748.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL074480
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Abstract

We report the first in situ detection of boron on Mars. Boron has been detected in Gale crater at levels <0.05 wt % B by the NASA Curiosity rover ChemCam instrument in calcium-sulfate-filled fractures, which formed in a late-stage groundwater circulating mainly in phyllosilicate-rich bedrock interpreted as lacustrine in origin. We consider two main groundwater-driven hypotheses to explain the presence of boron in the veins: leaching of borates out of bedrock or the redistribution of borate by dissolution of borate-bearing evaporite deposits. Our results suggest that an evaporation mechanism is most likely, implying that Gale groundwaters were mildly alkaline. On Earth, boron may be a necessary component for the origin of life; on Mars, its presence suggests that subsurface groundwater conditions could have supported prebiotic chemical reactions if organics were also present and provides additional support for the past habitability of Gale crater.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Authors
ISSN: 1944-8007
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Support for Mars Science Laboratory OperationsST/P002110/1UKSA UK Space Agency
Keywords: Mars Science Laboratory; Gale Crate; Boron; fluid rock interaction
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Space
Item ID: 51747
Depositing User: Susanne Schwenzer
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 08:50
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2018 01:58
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/51747
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