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2018 Abstracts

Habitability of Martian Recurring Slope Lineae: Building Capacity for Exploring Terrestrial Analogs for Astrobiology

Kate Hendricks, Brigham Young University

Recurrent Slope Lineae (RSL) are dark, narrow streaks of flowing brine water on Martian hillsides. Perchlorate salts found in especially high abundances in RSL regions may be responsible for their formation. It is believed that through a process called deliquescence, the salts act as a type of “sponge,” absorbing atmospheric water and seasonally saturating the hillside. These saturated soils may act as a niche for life. In order to better understand the potential habitable space of RSL, we created RSL analogs with various salt and moisture concentrations. The analogs were then impregnated with extremophilic microbial communities derived from Beacon Valley, Antarctica. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic results assess the potential habitable space of RSL on Mars.