Duffy, Maria; Lewis, Stephen and Mason, Nigel
An investigation of Martian atmospheric trace species using laboratory and computer-based simulation.
In: Fourth International Mars Atmosphere Workshop, 08-11 Feb 2011, Paris.
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The study of trace gas species in the Martian atmosphere has the potential to shed new light on wide-ranging topics such as the search for life and the history of liquid water on the planet. Investigating the way that molecules such as ozone, water and HCl are cycled in the atmosphere will give insights into the interactions taking place between the atmosphere, lithosphere and any potential biosphere. Numerous missions are currently being planned; for example the NASA/ESA Trace Gas Orbiter which will probe the trace constituents of the Martian atmosphere and to try to explain recent observations such as the Tharsis methane plumes and the presence of perchlorate in the North polar plains. Currently there are two Mars General Circulation Models (MGCMs) that have fully coupled photochemistry modules: the 3D Mars Global Multiscale Model (GM3) and the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD) MGCM. Both modules focus on odd-hydrogen (HOx) and odd-oxygen (Ox) chemistry and are not yet capable of simulating more complex chemical interactions. However, the benefit of fully-coupled MGCMs is that both the chemistry and the global transport of trace species can be investigated. In the current project we plan to study the more exotic chemical reactions occurring in the Martian atmosphere and to constrain their mechanisms and rates using both laboratory analogues and computerbased simulation.
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