Dr. Rachel A. Slank
Dr. Rachel Slank received her Ph.D. in Space and Planetary Science from the University of Arkansas. Her research focused on understanding martian salts and their implications for liquid water. Half of her dissertation focused on deliquescence of calcium perchlorate mixed with a martian analog in a Mars simulation chamber. She also analyzed field data from the Atacama Desert with different salts and salt/regolith samples to study their deliquescence/efflorescence cycles throughout six months. The dissertation also consisted of modeled deliquescence relative humidity (DRH) and the eutonic relative humidity of ternary salt mixtures of chloride, chlorate, and perchlorate with either calcium or magnesium to determine the ideal salt concentration for liquid water. Dr. Slank received her MS from the University of Texas at El Paso, with her research focusing on discovering subsurface cavities on the Moon using thermal inertia.
Dr. Slank holds a variety of interests including deliquescence and the stability of brines, the water cycle on Mars, volcanism, and planetary geology. During her time at the LPI, Dr. Slank will be working on two projects. Project one will be a chemical and mineralogical investigation of the igneous intrusions and metamorphosed sediments found in the San Rafael Swell on the Colorado Plateau. These numerous dikes, which intruded sulfur rich sediments, may be an ideal Earth analog field site to Mars and may help active and future missions place constraints on potential habitability of igneous intrusions. Project two consists of modeling constraints of deliquescence on the martian surface. The model will consider a variety of factors including mixed salt types and an ice layer to help determine how long a brine can be stable on the surface of Mars.