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Tufts University (2018)

Analysis of the Soluble Geochemistry of Extreme Environments to Assess the Habitability of Mars

Oberlin, Elizabeth

Titre : Analysis of the Soluble Geochemistry of Extreme Environments to Assess the Habitability of Mars

Auteur : Oberlin, Elizabeth.

Université de soutenance  : Tufts University,

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Chemistry 2018

Résumé
The research presented here is aimed at evaluating the past and present habitability of Mars and the implications for whether or not life could have developed and evolved to persist on Mars. This work is motivated by the similarities in formation of Earth and Mars as well indications of large quantities of liquid water early in Mars’ history. Evidence presented from a direct measurement of Mars through the soluble chemistry of the Tissint meteorite suggests that the conditions necessary to form prebiotic molecules in hydrothermal fluids was present on Mars in the recent past. This work also presents evidence for the persistence of subsurface microbial habitats in some of the most arid locations on Earth, suggesting a mechanism for preservation of life during the prolonged aridification of Mars. The availability of stable liquid water on the surface or in the subsurface remains one the biggest challenges for the persistence of life on Mars. This work evaluates water track features in Antarctica as analogues to recurring slope lineae (RSL) on Mars to evaluate the potential for RSL to be formed by stabilized liquid water in the form of brines. Finally, this work addresses how different environments on Earth can be related to different epochs of Mars and how the soluble chemistry of these environments can be used to inform the search for habitable environments on Mars.

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