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Light on windy nights on Mars: A study of saltation-mediated ionization of argon in a Mars-like atmosphere

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Laboratory experiments show that sand grain saltation in a Mars-like environment can result in the ionization of argon. This suggests that saltation can be a mechanism for the destruction of methane (CH4) on Mars given the ionization energy of argon is higher than the energy required to ionize methane to a reactive cation. The ionization energy is also higher than the energy to dissociate methane to highly reactive species like CH3, CH2, and CH. The feasibility of capturing the resulting emission glow on a windy Martian night is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-18
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Atmospheres, Chemistry, Mars, atmosphere, Terrestrial planets

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