Acid Fog Found On Mars That Dissolved Rocks

Posted: Nov 5 2015, 7:29am CST | by , Updated: Nov 5 2015, 11:19pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

Acid Fog Found on Mars That Dissolved Rocks
This Microscopic Image Mosaic by Mars Exploration Rover Spirit of an outcrop named "Hillary" on the "Husband Hill" summit is smoking gun evidence of acid fog action on the Martian surface. It shows a pre-existing crack which is being "healed over" -- evidence for the acidic gel. Credit: NASA
  • Likelihood of Acidic Fog’s Role in Rock Erosion on the Surface of the Red Planet

The likelihood of a particular acidic fog’s role in rock erosion on the surface of the red planet is a sure thing.

The atmosphere of Mars is such that it is eating away into some of the rocks extant on its surface. An acidic fog is eroding the surface features with relative ease. The clues about this were gathered by NASA’s Spirit Rover.

By the way, the vehicle is currently out of order. The fogs are said to have been created in the first place by the supply of water on the channels of Mars. The water must have gotten amalgamated with the spouting effluvia from volcanoes on the red planet.

The terrain consisting of rock formations and sloping hillocks probably got coated by the acidic fog. This led to the wear and tear that caused the rocky landscape to undergo significant transformations. The closest analogy to this Martian phenomenon is the vog of Hawaii.

Vog is of course acidic volcanic smog. Its direct cause are the gases released from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. On Mars this selfsame process has taken place over eons and that means millions upon millions of years of planetary evolution.

“A lot of people have talked about weathering that would occur on Mars,” said planetary scientist Ralph Milliken of Brown University. And those researchers have developed models for such things as acid fogs eating away at Martian rocks over the eons, although evidence for such processes has been scarce. “This (new work) is consistent with some of these models.”

Mars’ air and atmosphere consist of rarefied dry air that is very cold. As for the acidic fog, it causes a sort of gelatinous mass to form on the surface of rocks and boulders. The perfect crystals on top of the rocks are converted into an earthy soup via this erosion and wearing away of the basic elements.

Already scientists have been making models of soil erosion on Mars. But now there is direct evidence of the process taking place in actuality. The scientific researchers were not that far off the mark.

The latest information was analyzed by Shoshanna Cole. She mapped the Husband Hill region which is existent on the Martian landscape. Consistencies were examined from the data emerging from the rover. The various patterns matched and the hypothesis seems to have been tested in the crucible of reality.

“I look at the geology with all of the instruments data sets,” said Cole, an assistant professor at Ithaca College who started working on the project for her Ph.D. thesis while she was at Cornell University. “Different instruments give different information.”

Cole made a presentation at the yearly meeting of the Geological Society of America. She gazed in wonderment and curiously observed the results and she found what she was looking for.

The Martian rocks have undergone changes in their physico-chemical structure till they are virtually unrecognizable. Mars may still have more surprises in store for us humans if we will only show patience and perseverance while exploring this red neighbor of our planet earth.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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