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Title: In Situ Detection of Boron by ChemCam on Mars

Abstract

Here, 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 also 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.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [1];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [8];  [9]; ORCiD logo [1];  [10]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [1];  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA (United States). Chemistry Dept.
  3. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States). Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
  4. NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA (United States)
  5. Univ. of Leicester (United Kingdom). Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
  6. Open Univ., Milton Keynes (United Kingdom). Dept. of Earth Science
  7. Space Science Inst., Boulder, CO (United States)
  8. US Geological Survey (USGS) Flagstaff, AZ (United States)
  9. Univ. of Copenhagen (Denmark). Natural History Museum of Denmark
  10. Centre National d'etudes spatiales (CNES), Paris (France)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA); USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1394983
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-17-24987
Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 44; Journal Issue: 17; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; Planetary Sciences; Mars geochemistry, Mars groundwater, ChemCam, NASA Curiosity rover, Boron

Citation Formats

Gasda, Patrick J., Haldeman, Ethan Brian, Wiens, Roger Craig, Rapin, William, Bristow, Thomas, Bridges, John C., Schwenzer, Suzanne C., Clark, Benton, Herkenhoff, Kenneth, Frydenvang, Jens, Lanza, Nina Louise, Maurice, Sylvestre, Clegg, Samuel, Delapp, Dorothea Marcia, Sanford, Veronica, Bodine, Madeleine Rose, and McInroy, Rhonda. In Situ Detection of Boron by ChemCam on Mars. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2017GL074480.
Gasda, Patrick J., Haldeman, Ethan Brian, Wiens, Roger Craig, Rapin, William, Bristow, Thomas, Bridges, John C., Schwenzer, Suzanne C., Clark, Benton, Herkenhoff, Kenneth, Frydenvang, Jens, Lanza, Nina Louise, Maurice, Sylvestre, Clegg, Samuel, Delapp, Dorothea Marcia, Sanford, Veronica, Bodine, Madeleine Rose, & McInroy, Rhonda. In Situ Detection of Boron by ChemCam on Mars. United States. doi:10.1002/2017GL074480.
Gasda, Patrick J., Haldeman, Ethan Brian, Wiens, Roger Craig, Rapin, William, Bristow, Thomas, Bridges, John C., Schwenzer, Suzanne C., Clark, Benton, Herkenhoff, Kenneth, Frydenvang, Jens, Lanza, Nina Louise, Maurice, Sylvestre, Clegg, Samuel, Delapp, Dorothea Marcia, Sanford, Veronica, Bodine, Madeleine Rose, and McInroy, Rhonda. Tue . "In Situ Detection of Boron by ChemCam on Mars". United States. doi:10.1002/2017GL074480. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1394983.
@article{osti_1394983,
title = {In Situ Detection of Boron by ChemCam on Mars},
author = {Gasda, Patrick J. and Haldeman, Ethan Brian and Wiens, Roger Craig and Rapin, William and Bristow, Thomas and Bridges, John C. and Schwenzer, Suzanne C. and Clark, Benton and Herkenhoff, Kenneth and Frydenvang, Jens and Lanza, Nina Louise and Maurice, Sylvestre and Clegg, Samuel and Delapp, Dorothea Marcia and Sanford, Veronica and Bodine, Madeleine Rose and McInroy, Rhonda},
abstractNote = {Here, 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 also 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.},
doi = {10.1002/2017GL074480},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
number = 17,
volume = 44,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {9}
}

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