Happy Monday, everyone!

Mars has a surprising amount of salt! But what are the implications of this?

Salt on Earth is typically formed by the evaporation, or drying, of salty water (sea water) which contained dissolved sodium and chlorine ions. Rock salt deposits on dry lake beds and enclosed bay areas in arid regions around the world. 

On Mars, it may prove something similar. What was once a water-filled landscape turned dry and dusty may still hold water beneath the surface. As that liquid reaches the surface, the exposure to radiation immediately dries it out, creating a film of hydrated salts. 

Cameras from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the spectral camera CRISM have caught glimpses of these salt deposits. 

What kind of salt are these? We still don't know. Graduate students here at the Arkansas Space and Planetary Science Center are working on that very problem!

What are the implications? Salt would have to come from some sort of liquid base to dry out. And where there is liquid, there might be the potential for microbial life!

Thank you for reading and come back next week for how there might be an ocean under Pluto!

Mars HIRISE image of a possible chloride salt deposit. Image credit: NASA/HiRISE/ASU

Mars HIRISE image of a possible chloride salt deposit. Image credit: NASA/HiRISE/ASU