A study of Martian atmospheric chemistry through laboratory and computer-based simulation

Duffy, Maria; Lewis, Stephen and Mason, Nigel (2011). A study of Martian atmospheric chemistry through laboratory and computer-based simulation. In: Environmental Chemistry Group Bulletin p. 22.

URL: http://www.rsc.org/images/Jan2011_tcm18-197934.pdf...


The observation of a methane plume in the atmosphere of Mars caused much interest in the role of trace gases in the Martian system [1]. Investigating the way that trace species such as ozone, water and HCl are cycled in the atmosphere will give insight into the interactions taking place between the atmosphere, lithosphere and any potential biosphere of the Red Planet. Current Mars General Circulations Models (MGCMs) with coupled chemistry modules focus on odd-hydrogen (HOx) and odd-oxygen (Ox) chemistry and so are not yet capable of simulating more complex chemical interactions.

In the current project, a Mars environmental simulation chamber containing a Mars-like gas mixture with added trace gases will be irradiated by a solar simulator. The effect of the addition of a Mars-analogue regolith on the reaction mechanisms and rates will be investigated. The reactions identified in the laboratory will then be added to the chemical module of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD)-MGCM [2], [3]. Numerical experiments will be conducted to identify sources of trace species on the surface, by conducting trial releases and observing the species' distribution after a set period of time. The interaction of the current chemical module with new reactions as determined by the laboratory simulations will also be investigated.

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