High‐temperature HCl evolutions from mixtures of perchlorates and chlorides with water‐bearing phases: Implications for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument in Gale crater, Mars

1J.V. Clark,2B. Sutter,3A.C. McAdam,4E.B. Rampe,2P.D. Archer,4D.W. Ming,5R. Navarro‐Gonzalez,3P. Mahaffy,6T.J. Lapen
Journal of Geophysical Research, Planets (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JE006173]
1Geocontrols Systems – Jacobs JETS Contract at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
2Jacobs JETS Contract at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
4NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
5Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
6University of Houston, Houston, TX
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Evolved hydrogen chloride (HCl) detected by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument’s evolved gas analysis (EGA) mode on board the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover has been attributed to oxychlorines (i.e., perchlorates and chlorates) or chlorides in Gale crater samples. Previous laboratory EGA studies of oxychlorines have been unable to reproduce the high‐temperature (>600 °C) HCl evolutions observed in most Gale crater samples. The objective of this work was to reproduce these high temperature HCl releases from laboratory mixtures of perchlorates and chlorides with phases that evolve water upon heating. Magnesium and sodium perchlorate and chloride were mixed with saponite, nontronite, and a basaltic glass and analyzed in a laboratory thermal evolved gas analyzer configured to operate similarly to the SAM instrument. Na perchlorate and chloride evolved HCl only when mixed with all three water‐producing phases. Mg perchlorate and chloride evolved a mid‐temperature HCl release (~450‐550 °C) and evolved an additional high‐temperature HCl release (~810‐820 °C) when mixed with saponite. This work demonstrated that chlorides, either originally present or from perchlorate decomposition, evolved high‐temperature HCl when reacting with water from water‐producing phases. The HCl release temperature was dependent on the mixture’s mineralogy and chemical composition. HCl releases detected by SAM were consistent with oxychlorines and/or chlorides in the presence of water‐producing phases. Additionally, this work provided constraints on the presence of oxychlorines or chlorides and their cation‐types, which has implications for past aqueous and diagenetic processes, the potential for past life, and detection of organics by EGA.

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