UV production of methane from surface and sedimenting IDPs on Mars in light of REMS data - insights for TGO

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017

John E. Moores, Christina L. Smith, Andrew C. Schuerger
(Submitted on 3 Oct 2017)

This paper refines model predictions for the production of methane from UV-irradiated interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) now that the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument onboard the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover has made the first measurements of the UV environment on the surface of Mars, at Gale Crater. Once these measurements are included in a UV radiative transfer model, we find that modelled UV sol-integrated energies across the planet are lower than pre-measurement estimates by 35% on average, considering all latitudes and seasons. This reduction, in turn, reduces the predicted production of methane from individual accreting IDPs, extending their lifetimes and increasing the surface concentration of organics that must accumulate in order to emit sufficient methane to balance the accretion of organic compounds to Mars. Emission from reasonable accumulations of IDPs could range up to ~7.9x10^-4 ppbv sol^-1. Richer deposits of organic carbon at the surface may emit methane at no more than 3.9 ppbv sol^-1. An examination of IDP-derived methane production during atmospheric settling indicates that no more than 0.32% of organic carbon from meteor streams may be deposited in the atmosphere. Thus, such a process cannot explain either the spikes observed in methane nor the low equilibrium values observed by MSL. Instead, this discrepancy may be explained if < 80 tons per year of organic carbon survives to the surface, the atmospheric lifetime of methane is < 110 years or the efficiency of the UV-CH4 process is < 7%. Under the assumption of reduced carbon input cycling in the Martian system from these processes, both soil concentrations of organic carbon and atmospheric measurements of methane observed by MSL are consistent with the UV-CH4 process. This refinement of methane production from IDPs and its geographical and vertical... .

Comments:    Accepted for publication in Planetary and Space Science
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
DOI:    10.1016/j.pss.2017.09.008
Cite as:    arXiv:1710.01238 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1710.01238v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Christina Smith 
[v1] Tue, 3 Oct 2017 16:04:43 GMT (1167kb)

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