Planet Bleach

Back in August, New Scientist reported that the landscape of Mars might be sterile due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide. The planet is bleaching itself, in other words, on a near-continual basis.

[Image: Via New Scientist].

Specifically, we read, “large amounts of hydrogen peroxide could be produced on Mars as a result of wind-blown dust grains rubbing together.” Because of these interactions – and the resultant electrochemical effects – hydrogen peroxide, “a harsh chemical used as a disinfectant on Earth may rain down on the surface” of the planet. “This process is similar to the way snow forms from water vapour in Earth’s atmosphere, ” we read. “However, the hydrogen peroxide falling on Mars would be in the form of microscopic grains.”
I find this image – the chemical snow of alien planets – quite striking.
Meanwhile, similar electrochemical conditions have been found in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where “photochemistry triggered by the region’s harsh sunlight plays an important role in creating these electric fields” – electric fields, generated in the region’s dusty soil, that produce trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide.

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