Production of reactive oxygen species from abraded silicates. Implications for the reactivity of the Martian soil

Ebbe N. Bak*, Kaloyan Zafirov, Jonathan P. Merrison, Svend J. Knak Jensen, Per Nornberg, Haraldur P. Gunnlaugsson, Kai Finster

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Abstract

The results of the Labeled Release and the Gas Exchange experiments conducted on Mars by the Viking Landers show that compounds in the Martian soil can cause oxidation of organics and a release of oxygen in the presence of water. Several sources have been proposed for the oxidizing compounds, but none has been validated in situ and the cause of the observed oxidation has not been resolved. In this study, laboratory simulations of saltation were conducted to examine if and under which conditions wind abrasion of silicates, a process that is common on the Martian surface, can give rise to oxidants in the form of hydrogen peroxide (H 2O 2) and hydroxyl radicals (⋅OH). We found that silicate samples abraded in simulated Martian atmospheres gave rise to a significant production of H 2O 2 and ⋅OH upon contact with water. Our experiments demonstrated that abraded silicates could lead to a production of H 2O 2 facilitated by atmospheric O 2 and inhibited by carbon dioxide. Furthermore, during simulated saltation the silicate particles became triboelectrically charged and at pressures similar to the Martian surface pressure we observed glow discharges. Electrical discharges can cause dissociation of CO 2 and through subsequent reactions lead to a production of H 2O 2. These results indicate that the reactions linked to electrical discharges are the dominant source of H 2O 2 during saltation of silicates in a simulated Martian atmosphere, given the low pressure and the relatively high concentration of CO 2. Our experiments provide evidence that wind driven abrasion could enhance the reactivity of the Martian soil and thereby could have contributed to the oxidation of organic compounds and the O 2 release observed in the Labeled Release and the Gas Exchange experiments. Furthermore, the release of H 2O 2 and ⋅OH from abraded silicates could have a negative effect on the persistence of organic compounds in the Martian soil and the habitability of the Martian surface.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Vol/bind473
Sider (fra-til)113-121
Antal sider9
ISSN0012-821X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 sep. 2017

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