Constraining the global composition of D/H and 18O/16O in Martian water using SOFIA/EXES

Alday, J; Aoki, S; DeWitt, C; Montmessin, F; Holmes, J A; Patel, M R; Mason, J P; Encrenaz, T; Richter, M J; Irwin, P G J; Daerden, F; Terada, N and Nakagawa, H (2024). Constraining the global composition of D/H and 18O/16O in Martian water using SOFIA/EXES. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 530(3) pp. 2919–2932.



Isotopic ratios in water vapour carry important information about the water reservoir on Mars. Localized variations in these ratios can inform us about the water cycle and surface–atmosphere exchanges. On the other hand, the global isotopic composition of the atmosphere carries the imprints of the long-term fractionation, providing crucial information about the early water reservoir and its evolution throughout history. Here, we report the analysis of measurements of the D/H and 18O/16O isotopic ratios in water vapour in different seasons (LS = 15, 127, 272, and 305) made with the Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph (EXES) aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). These measurements, free of telluric absorption, provide a unique tool for constraining the global isotopic composition of Martian water vapour. We find the maximum planetary D/H ratio in our observations during the northern summer (D/H = 5.2 ± 0.2 with respect to the Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water, VSMOW) and to exhibit relatively small variations throughout the year (D/H = 5.0 ± 0.2 and 4.3 ± 0.4 VSMOW during the northern winter and spring, respectively), which are to first order consistent though noticeably larger than the expectations from condensation-induced fractionation. Our measurements reveal the annually averaged isotopic composition of water vapour to be consistent with D/H = 5.0 ± 0.2 and 18O/16O = 1.09 ± 0.08 VSMOW. In addition, based on a comparison between the SOFIA/EXES measurements and the predictions from a Global Climate Model, we estimate the D/H in the northern polar ice cap to be $\sim\!{5}~{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ larger than that in the atmospheric reservoir (D/Hice = 5.3 ± 0.3 VSMOW).

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