Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The analysis of water in the Martian regolith

  • 70 Accesses

  • 31 Citations

Summary

One of the scientific objectives of the Viking Mission to Mars was to accomplish an analysis of water in the Martian regolith. The analytical scheme originally envisioned was severly compromised in the latter stages of the Lander instrument package design. Nevertheless, a crude soil water analysis was accomplished. Samples from each of the two widely separated sites yielded roughly 1 to 3% water by weight when heated successively to several temperatures up to 500°C. A significant portion of this water was released in the 200° to 350°C interval indicating the presence of mineral hydrates of relatively low thermal stability, a finding in keeping with the low temperatures generally prevailing on Mars. The presence of a duricrust at one of the Lander sites is taken as possible evidence for the presence of hygroscopic minerals on Mars. The demonstrated presence of atmospheric water vapor and thermodynamic calculations lead to the belief that adsorbed water could provide a relatively favorable environment for endolithic organisms on Mars similar to types recently discovered in the dry antarctic deserts.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Anderson, D.M., Biemann, K., Orgel, L.E., Oro, J., Owen, T., Shulman, G.P., Toulmin P. III, Urey, H.C. 1972. Mass spectrometric analysis of organic compounds, water, and volitile constituents in the atmosphere and surface of Mars: The Viking Mars lander, Icarus16, 111–138

  2. Anderson, D.M., Schwarz, M.J., Tice, A.R. (1978). Water Vapor Adsorption by Sodium Montmorillonite at -5°C. Icarus34, 638–644

  3. Baird, A.K., Toulmin, P. III, Clark, G.C., Rose, H.J. Jr., Keil, K., Christian, R.P., Gooding, J.L. (1976). Mineralogic and Petrologic Implications of Viking Geochemical Results from Mars: Interim Report. Science194, 1288

  4. Biemann, K., Oro, J., Toulmin, P. III, Orgel, L.E., Nier, A.O., Anderson, D.M., Simmonds, P.G., Flory, D., Diaz, A.V., Rushneck, D.R., Biller, J.E., Lafleur, A.L. (1977). The Search for Organic Substances and Inorganic Volatile Compounds in the Surface of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research Vol.82, No. 28

  5. Clark, B.C. (1978). Implications of Abundant Hygroscopic Minerals in the Martian Regolith. Icarus34, 645–665

  6. Friedman, E.I., (1976). Endolithic Blue-green Algae in the Dry Valleys: Primary Producers in the Antarctic Desert Ecosystem. Science193, 1244–1249

  7. Michael, W.H., Jr., Mayo, A.P., Blackshear, W.T., Tolson, R.H., Kelly, G.M., Brenkle, J.P., Cain, D.L., Fjeldbo, G., Sweetnam, D.N., Goldstein, R.B., MacNeil, P.E., Reasenberg, R.D., Shapiro, I.I., Boak, T.I.S. III, Grossi, M.D., Tang, C.H. (1976). Mars Dynamics, Atmospheric and Surface Properties: Determination from Viking Tracking Data. Science194, 1337–1339

  8. Mutch, T.A., Arvidson, R.E., Binder, A.B., Guinness, E.A., Morris, E.C. (1977). The Geology of the Viking Lander 2 Site. Journal of Geophysical Research Vol.82

  9. Rushneck, D.R., Diaz, A.V., Howarth, D.W., Rampacek, J., Olson, K.W., Dencker, W.D., Smith, P., McDavid, L., Tomassian, A., Harris, M., Butota, K., Biemann, K., Lafleur, A.L., Biller, J.E., Owen, T. (1978). Viking Gas Chromatograph-mass Spectrometer. Rev. Sci. Instrum.49, 817–833

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Anderson, D.M., Tice, A.R. The analysis of water in the Martian regolith. J Mol Evol 14, 33–38 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01732365

Download citation

Key words

  • Water
  • Mars
  • Adsorbed water
  • Capillary water
  • Mineral hydrates-hygroscopic minerals
  • Endolithic organisms