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Boron Detected on Mars

Bob Eklund1.5 2

Bob Eklund Looking Up Column

 

Note this is a press release from Los Alamos National Laboratory

 

Boron has been identified for the first time on the surface of Mars, indicating the potential for long-term habitable groundwater in the ancient past.

“No prior mission to Mars has found boron,” said Patrick Gasda, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “If the boron that we found in calcium sulfate mineral veins on Mars is similar to what we see on Earth, it would indicate that the groundwater of ancient Mars that formed these veins would have been 32-140 degrees Fahrenheit and neutral-to-alkaline pH.” The temperature, pH, and dissolved mineral content of the groundwater could make it habitable.

The boron was identified by the rover’s laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, which was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with the French space agency.

Boron is famously associated with arid sites where much water has evaporated away—think of the borax that mule teams once hauled from Death Valley. However, environmental implications of the boron found by Curiosity are still open to debate.

As the rover has progressed uphill, compositions trend toward more clay and more boron. These and other variations can tell us about conditions under which sediments were initially deposited and about how later groundwater moving through the accumulated layers altered and transported ingredients.

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