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Researchers investigating whether liquid water could exist on Mars have provided new insight into the limits of life on the red planet.
A team led by Dr Lorna Dougan from the University of Leeds has analysed the structure of water in a magnesium perchlorate solution —what they refer to as "mimetic Martin water"—to better understand how the liquid could exist on the Martian surface.
Soil - Samples - Phoenix - Lander - Calcium
Martian soil samples gathered by the Phoenix Lander in 2009 found calcium and powerful oxidants, including magnesium perchlorate. This fuelled speculation that perchlorate brine flows might be the cause of channelling and weathering observed on the planet's surface.
Dr Dougan, from the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Astbury Centre said: "The discovery of significant amounts of different perchlorate salts in Martian soil gives new insight into the Martian 'riverbeds.'
Surface - Temperatures - Mars - Equator - Celsius
"The surface temperatures on Mars may reach a high of about 20°Celcius at the equator and as low as -153° Celsius at the pole. With an average surface temperature of -55° Celsius, water itself cannot exist as a liquid on Mars, but concentrated solutions of perchlorate could survive these low temperatures."
Through experiments conducted at the ISIS Facility and computer modelling, the team was able to refine and analyse the structure of mimetic Martian water.
Outcome - Analysis
The outcome of their analysis,...
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