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Perchlorate on Mars: a chemical hazard and a resource for humans

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 June 2013

Alfonso F. Davila
Affiliation:
Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, 189 Bernardo Avenue, Suite 100, Mountain View, CA 94043-5203, USA e-mail: adavila@seti.org Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
David Willson
Affiliation:
Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
John D. Coates
Affiliation:
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, 271 Koshland Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Christopher P. McKay
Affiliation:
Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA

Abstract

Perchlorate (ClO4) is widespread in Martian soils at concentrations between 0.5 and 1%. At such concentrations, perchlorate could be an important source of oxygen, but it could also become a critical chemical hazard to astronauts. In this paper, we review the dual implications of ClO4 on Mars, and propose a biochemical approach for removal of perchlorate from Martian soil that would be energetically cheap, environmentally friendly and could be used to obtain oxygen both for human consumption and to fuel surface operations.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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