2000 Annual Science Report
University of Colorado, Boulder Reporting | JUL 1999 – JUN 2000
Geochemical Weathering and the Energetics to Support Life on Mars.
The primary objective of this research is to constrain the amount of chemical energy potentially available from reactions between ground or surface water and regolith or crustal rock to support life on Mars. To accomplish this goal, we will integrate broad aspects of terrestrial and martian geochemistry, geochemical computer modeling, metabolic strategies of terrestrial analog organisms, as well as an understanding of geologic processes occurring on Mars. Our approach is to use the standard geochemical software tools EQ3/6 and SUPCRT92. We require particular knowledge of a number of environmental parameters as inputs into the models, including the chemical composition of crustal rocks and groundwater, the volume of material chemically altered, and the composition of the atmosphere in contact with groundwater. The sites to be modeled are still under consideration, will include the “hematite” deposit in Sinus Meridiani, which will be modeled both as an area of low-temperature water/rock interaction as well as an area of hydrothermal alteration.
Progress to date includes importing the EQ3/6 and SUPCRT92 software packages, understanding their appropriate use and theoretical underpinnings, and developing a small pilot study to determine the amount of chemical energy available from the interaction of a SNC composition meteorite with hydrothermal fluids.