The giant Martian sandstorm of 2018 was not a avid ride. It gave us a earlier undetected gas in the planet’s environment. For the very first time, the ExoMars orbiter tested HCl traces, composed of chlorine and a hydrogen atom. This gas displays Mars scientists with a new puzzle to solve: how it got there.
“We have found HCl for the first time on Mars,” stated physicist Kevin Olsen of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. This is the 1st detection of halogen gas in the atmosphere represents a new chemical cycle to agree.”
Scientists kept an eye out for gases that contain chlorine in the atmosphere of Mars as they could affirm that the planet is volcanically alive. Nevertheless, suppose HCl was produced by volcanic activity. In that case, it should pin regionally and also be accompanied by other volcanic gases. The HCL detected by ExoMars did not and was not sniffed out in both the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars during the dust storm.
The absence of these volcanic gases was piercing. This specifies that some other process was producing the gas; luckily, we have similar methods here on Earth to experience what it could be. It is a multiple-step process that requires some of the key ingredients. First, we need sodium chloride (NaCl), which is regular salt leftover from evaporative processes. There is so much of that on Mars, thought to be the remnants of ancient salt lakes. When the dust storm awakens the surface, the sodium chloride (NaCl) gets kicked into the atmosphere.
Then the Martian polar ice caps, which, when warmed during the summer times, moreover sublimate. When the resulting water vapor mingles with the salt, the resulting reaction liberates chlorine, which then reacts again to form hydrogen chloride (HCl).
“You need water vapor to free Cl and the by-products of water – hydrogen - to form HCl. Water is critical in this chemistry,” Olsen stated.
This model is backed by detecting HCl during the 2019 dusty season, which the team analyzes. Nevertheless, confirmation is in the pending state. Future & ongoing observations help put together a more thorough picture of the process’s cycles.