In situ detection of boron by ChemCam on Mars

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



We report the first in situ detection of boron on Mars. Boron has been detected in Gale crater at levels <0.05 wt % B by the NASA Curiosity rover ChemCam instrument in calcium‐sulfate‐filled fractures, which formed in a late‐stage groundwater circulating mainly in phyllosilicate‐rich bedrock interpreted as lacustrine in origin. We consider two main groundwater‐driven hypotheses to explain the presence of boron in the veins: leaching of borates out of bedrock or the redistribution of borate by dissolution of borate‐bearing evaporite deposits. Our results suggest that an evaporation mechanism is most likely, implying that Gale groundwaters were mildly alkaline. On Earth, boron may be a necessary component for the origin of life; on Mars, its presence suggests that subsurface groundwater conditions could have supported prebiotic chemical reactions if organics were also present and provides additional support for the past habitability of Gale crater.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title In situ detection of boron by ChemCam on Mars
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2017GL074480
Volume 44
Issue 17
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 8739
Last page 8748