Mars dust storm built-in fuel

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Mars dust storm built-in fuel

2018-10-31 10:25:40 137 ℃

Source: JPL-CALTECH/NASA

Mars, this red planet Rich in high chlorides, this compound can be used to make fertilizers and rocket fuels, and is rarely formed naturally on Earth. Now, laboratory research reveals how this unusual compound is produced on Mars: the electric field formed by a dust storm in a whole planet, and a cyclone called a dust storm.

For more than five years, based on evidence from the Phoenix Mars Lander and the Curious Mars, scientists have speculated that perchlorate is relatively common on Mars. On Earth, the chemical reactions that produce these compounds are usually powered by sunlight. But atmospheric chemistry models show that only sunlight is not enough to work on Mars. Instead, the researchers point out that strong electric fields, such as those generated by static electricity in sandstorms, can decompose gases in the Martian atmosphere, driving the perchlorate-generating reaction.

To validate this concept in the laboratory, the researchers will represent a gas mixture of Mars atmosphere (95% carbon dioxide, 2% nitrogen, 2% argon, and 1% oxygen) with chlorine. And the salt is placed together in a large cabin. The researchers lowered the temperature and pressure in the cabin until conditions similar to Mars were reached. They then exposed the mixture to an electric field that could exist inside the Martian dust storm and dust storm (as seen from the track, as shown).

Almost every moment, some of the gas in the room breaks down into highly reactive, positively charged carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen molecules. Over time, the reaction produced a large amount of chlorate and perchlorate. Researchers recently reported in the Earth and Planetary Science Express that the team estimates that the rate of perchlorate formation in Mars dust storms may be 10 million times higher than that driven by sunlight.

Perchlorate is intriguing for astrobiologists. Although these substances are toxic to humans and may threaten potential human settlements on Mars, some microorganisms can use perchlorate to promote metabolism.

Related paper information: DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.08.040