Is there H2O stacking disordered ice I in the Solar System?

Salzmann, Christoph G.; Murray, Benjamin J.; Fox-Powell, Mark G.; Hamp, Rachael E.; Rosu-Finsen, Alexander and Fraser, Helen (2024). Is there H2O stacking disordered ice I in the Solar System? Icarus, 410, article no. 115897.



Water ice exists in large quantities across the Solar System, and it is involved in a wide range of atmospheric and geological processes. Here we focus on the question if stacking disordered ice I (ice Isd) is present in the Solar System. The conditions required to form ice Isd are described and we argue that previous descriptions of ‘cubic ice’ (ice Ic) in the literature may in fact have been concerned with ice Isd. In contrast to the stable hexagonal ice I (ice Ih) and ice Ic, ice Isd is a highly complex material that encompasses a wide range of possible stacking regimes and structures. The most fundamental quantity to describe a given ice Isd sample is its cubicity which reflects the fraction of cubic stacking. Following an introduction into the characterisation techniques used to identify and characterise ice Isd, we discuss the various environments in the Solar System where ice Isd may exist and the relevance its existence may have. This includes the atmospheres of the inner planets, various icy moons as well as comets and other icy objects in the far reaches of the Solar System. The details of the stacking disorder may contain information about the formation and thermal history of ice Isd samples. This offers the exciting prospect of using ice Isd as a marker material for atmospheric and geological processes. The crystallographic space group of ice Isd allows polar structures which could be an important factor for the accretion of ice particles in space. We conclude that ice Isd should exist at several locations in the Solar System and in potentially large quantities. The definitive identification of ice Isd in a natural environment is a next major milestone in our understanding of the importance of water ice across the Solar System.

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