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Landslides on Mars possibly because of Underground Salt and Melting Ice

Variations in Mar’s geography always attract significant scientific and even public attention. A hope for signs of liquid water (and therefore life) is probably going one among the first driving forces behind this interest. One particularly striking changing feature is that the Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) originally found by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Now, scientists at the SETI Institute have a modified theory for where those RSLs might develop – a mixture of water ice and salt slightly below the Martian surface.
According to the SETI team, led by Senior Research Scientist Janice Bishop, there’s a two-step process happening that makes these RSLs. First, underground water ice must mix with a mixture of chlorine salts and sulphates to make a kind of slurry that destabilizes the regolith within the area. Then, the dry wind and mud storms of Mars take over, blowing the destabilized material into new patterns across the Martian surface.

This is not the primary time that researchers have suggested that chlorine salts could be involved within the creation of RSL. like much good science, this theory has now been full-clad more through data gathered in both field and lab experiments. Unfortunately, the sector experiments weren’t ready to be administered on Mars itself (at least not yet). However, there are several places on our home planet that are considered “Mars analogs”, including the Dead Sea in Israel, Salar de Pajonales within the Atacama Desert, and therefore the Dry Valleys in Antarctica.

Image of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, where a number of the sector work for this experiment was carried out. Acquired by Landsat 7’s Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) instrument.
The SETI team collected data at a number of those locations, and noted that surface destabilization has already been observed when salt interacted with gypsum, a kind of sulphate. For this project, the team collected data within the Dry Valleys, where the soil geology and temperature are remarkably almost like those found on Mars by the Phoenix lander and MRO.

Field work was then followed by lab work, because the team subjected Mars analog regolith to tests using coloured indicators that might show how the regolith simulant would react when subjects to an equivalent quite chemical reaction that were happening in Antarctica.

All this data collecting resulted during a geological model involving sulphates, chlorides, and water which will account for the looks of the RSLs seen on Mars’ surface. The model also has implications of the habitability of sub-surface Mars and the way the presence of this slurry might affect any biosphere the Mars may need. Until there are some further on-site tests this model are going to be hard to prove, but there are many those planned for Mars within the near future.