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Chemical interactions between the present-day Martian atmosphere and surface minerals: Implications for sample returnThermochemical and photochemical reactions between surface minerals and present-day atmospheric constituents are predicted to produce microscopic effects on the surface of mineral grains. Relevant reactions hypothesized in the literature include conversions of silicates and volcanic glasses to clay minerals, conversion of ferrous to ferric compounds, and formation of carbonates, nitrates, and sulfates. These types of surface-atmosphere weathering of minerals, biological potential of the surface environment, and atmospheric stability in both present and past Martian epochs. It is emphasized that the product of these reactions will be observable and interpretable on the microscopic surface layers of Martian surface rocks using modern techniques with obvious implications for sample return from Mars. Macroscopic products of chemical weathering reactions in past Martian epochs are also expected in Martian surface materials. These products are expected not only as a result of reactions similar to those proceeding today but also due to aqueous reactions in past epochs in which liquid water was putatively present. It may prove very difficult or impossible, however, to determine definitively from the relic macroscopic product alone either the exact weathering process which led to its formation of the identity of its weathering parent mineral. The enormous advantages of studying the Martian chemical weathering by investigating the microscopic products of present-day chemical reactions on sample surfaces are very apparent.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Prinn, Ronald (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Fegley, Bruce (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 5, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1988
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Workshop on Mars Sample Return Science
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19890008917Analytic PrimaryWorkshop on Mars Sample Return Science