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

Jan Thøgersen, Ebbe Norskov Bak, Kai Finster, Per Nørnberg, Hans Jørgen Jakobsen, Svend J. Knak Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

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
JournalIcarus
Volume332
Pages (from-to)14-18
Number of pages5
ISSN0019-1035
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Atmospheres
  • Chemistry
  • Mars, atmosphere
  • Terrestrial planets

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  • Mars Simulation Laboratory

    Nørnberg, P. (PI)

    Project: Consultancy

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