Water heavily fractionated as it ascends on Mars as revealed by ExoMars/NOMAD

Villanueva, Geronimo L.; Liuzzi, Giuliano; Crismani, Matteo M. J.; Aoki, Shohei; Vandaele, Ann Carine; Daerden, Frank; Smith, Michael D.; Mumma, Michael J.; Knutsen, Elise W.; Neary, Lori; Viscardy, Sebastien; Thomas, Ian R.; Lopez-Valverde, Miguel Angel; Ristic, Bojan; Patel, Manish R.; Holmes, James A.; Bellucci, Giancarlo and Lopez-Moreno, Jose Juan (2021). Water heavily fractionated as it ascends on Mars as revealed by ExoMars/NOMAD. Science Advances, 7(7), article no. eabc8843.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abc8843

Abstract

sotopic ratios and, in particular, the water D/H ratio are powerful tracers of the evolution and transport of water on Mars. From measurements performed with ExoMars/NOMAD, we observe marked and rapid variability of the D/H along altitude on Mars and across the whole planet. The observations (from April 2018 to April 2019) sample a broad range of events on Mars, including a global dust storm, the evolution of water released from the southern polar cap during southern summer, the equinox phases, and a short but intense regional dust storm. In three instances, we observe water at very high altitudes (>80 km), the prime region where water is photodissociated and starts its escape to space. Rayleigh distillation appears the be the driving force affecting the D/H in many cases, yet in some instances, the exchange of water reservoirs with distinctive D/H could be responsible.

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