EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES OF POTENTIAL CHEMICAL SIGNATURES IN SERPENTINE-WATER SYSTEMS
We completed targeted experiments to test the hypothesis that aqueous alteration with and without organic compounds will result in chemical signatures of alteration distinct from unaltered serpentine. Such altered surfaces may therefore aid in the identification of potentially habitable serpentine environments in planetary systems. Dissolution experiments were completed using a) solutions containing inorganic acids; b) solutions containing organic compounds commonly resulting from abiotic processes (“abiotic organic compounds”); and c) solutions containing organic compounds commonly resulting from biological processes (“biotic organic compounds”). Results from these experiments will allow interpretation of potential chemical and mineralogical signatures of aqueous alteration, which are useful because they may persist in the intense radiation at the surface of some planets including Mars.