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Pyrolysis of Oxalate, Acetate, and Perchlorate Mixtures and the Implications for Organic Salts on Mars

Abstract : Organic salts, such as Fe, Ca, and Mg oxalates and acetates, may be widespread radiolysis and oxidation products of organic matter in Martian surface sediments. Such organic salts are challenging to identify by evolved gas analysis but the ubiquitous CO2 and CO in pyrolysis data from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on the Curiosity rover indirectly points to their presence. Here, we examined laboratory results from SAM‐like analyses of organic salts as pure phases, as trace phases mixed with silica, and in mixtures with Ca and Mg perchlorates. Pure oxalates evolved CO2 and CO, while pure acetates evolved CO2 and a diverse range of organic products dominated by acetone and acetic acid. Dispersal within silica caused minor peak shifting, decreased the amounts of CO2 evolved by the acetate standards, and altered the relative abundances of the organic products of acetate pyrolysis. The perchlorate salts scrubbed Fe oxalate CO releases and shifted the CO2 peaks to lower temperatures, whereas with Ca and Mg oxalate, a weaker CO release was observed but the initial CO2 evolutions were largely unchanged. The perchlorates induced a stronger CO2 release from acetates at the expense of other products. Oxalates evolved ∼47% more CO2 and acetates yielded ∼69% more CO2 when the perchlorates were abundant. The most compelling fits between our organic salt data and SAM CO2 and CO data included Martian samples acquired from modern eolian deposits and sedimentary rocks with evidence for low‐temperature alteration.
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Contributor : Catherine Cardon Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, August 15, 2021 - 11:03:50 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:46:48 AM

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J. Lewis, J. Eigenbrode, G. Wong, A. Mcadam, P. Archer, et al.. Pyrolysis of Oxalate, Acetate, and Perchlorate Mixtures and the Implications for Organic Salts on Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2021, 126 (4), pp.e2020JE006803. ⟨10.1029/2020JE006803⟩. ⟨insu-03186685v2⟩

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