This paper describes a protocol to design experiments to study the formation of brines under Martian conditions and monitor the process with electrical conductivity measurements. We used the Engineering Qualification Model (EQM) of Habitability: Brines, Irradiation, and Temperature (HABIT)/ExoMars 2022 instrument for the experiment setup but we provide a brief account of constructing a simple and inexpensive electrical conductivity measurement setup. The protocol serves to calibrate the electrical conductivity measurements of the salt deliquescence into brine in a simulated Martian environment. The Martian conditions of temperature (-70 °C to 20 °C), relative humidity (0% to 100%) and pressure (7 - 8 mbar) with carbon-dioxide atmosphere were simulated in the SpaceQ Mars simulation chamber, a facility at the Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. The hydrate form of the known amount of salt accommodated between a pair of electrodes and thus the electrical conductivity measured depends predominantly on its water content and the temperature and relative humidity of the system. Electrical conductivity measurements were carried out at 1 Hz while exposing salts to a continuously increasing relative humidity (to force transitioning through various hydrates) at different Martian temperatures. For demonstration, a day-night cycle at Oxia Planum, Mars (the landing site of ExoMars 2022 mission) was recreated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)