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Friday, October 11 • 09:20 - 09:40
Chasing Water on Mars with Lasers

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The NASA Curiosity rover recently detected a high concentration of boron for the first time on Mars, in veins within rocks of Gale crater. These veins are possible evidence for groundwater circulation and indicate presence of water in regions protected from cosmic radiations, for longer periods after surface water evaporated, thus expanding the previously perceived window for when life might have existed on Mars. On Earth, borates stabilize ribose, the simple sugar that forms the backbone of ribonucleic acid (RNA). Therefore, borates may have facilitated a key step in RNA formation on early Earth. On Mars, presence of boron in a long-lived hydrologic system suggests that important prebiotic chemical reactions could have occurred in the groundwater. With the recent discovery of organic molecules on Mars, in addition to that of boron, the question of whether life might have originated or existed on Mars is a lot more opportune. In order to better interpret Martian rover data, it is key to study well-understood terrestrial formations similar to Gale crater. The objectives of this project are to investigate borate deposits in California as analogues to explain mobilization of boron in Gale crater and to forward the search for new boron rich regions on Mars. The results of this project are expected to further our understanding of habitability and aqueous processes of Mars, improve analytical techniques on the Curiosity rover and maximize scientific returns of the Mars 2020 mission.

avatar for Debarati Das

Debarati Das

Graduate Student, McGill University
I am a second year graduate student at the Earth and Planetary Science department at McGill University. I am also a member of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory and I work on understanding geochemistry and habitability of Mars using data from the Curiosity rover. A part of my research... Read More →

Friday October 11, 2019 09:20 - 09:40 EDT
Room CR1 ICAO - 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Montréal, QC H3C 5H10