Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Phosphates on Mars

  • Daniela Tirsch
  • Alessandro Airo
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5093-1


Phosphates are the salts and esters of phosphoric acid (H3PO4). Since phosphate is a essential nutrient for life on Earth and part of the backbone of DNA, its occurrence is important for estimating the habitability on Mars. Phosphates can be derived from minerals (e.g., apatite Ca5[(PO4)3(OH, F, Cl)]) through the weathering of igneous rocks. Calcium-phosphate minerals have a high solubility in acidic water. Measurements done by the Mars Pathfinder Rover and the Mars Exploration Rover indicate that the Martian soil is enriched in phosphorus relative to the rock.

See Also


Phosphoric Acid Bioorganic Chemistry Solar System Igneous Rock High Solubility 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Aerospace Center DLRInstitute of Planetary ResearchBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Geologische Wissenschaften Tektonik und Sedimentäre GeologieFreie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich GeowissenschaftenBerlinGermany