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The role of sulfur on Mars.

Several bits of evidence, including the composition of meteorites that apparently have fallen to Earth from Mars, hint that the Martian interior may contain relatively high concentrations of sulfur. Heinrich Wanke of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, says the high sulfur content could have influenced the evolution of the Red Planet in some intriguing ways.

He suggests that as iron sulfide and water vapor rose to the surface during volcanic eruptions, the sulfide would have reacted with the vapor to form sulfur dioxide, depleting the planet's underground water supply. Wanke thus suggests that the water that may once have flowed on the Martian surface probably originated at shallow depths rather than nearer the planet's core.

He also notes that liquid sulfur dioxide might have carved some of the channels that scar the face of Mars and that are sometimes attributed exclusively to erosion by water. Sulfur dioxide in the Martian atmosphere may also have acted as a greenhouse gas, warming frozen water on the planet's surface so that it could carve the channels, Wanke adds.
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Title Annotation:high sulfur content may have depleted Martian water supply
Author:Cowen, Ron
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 26, 1992
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