Status Report

Delivery of organics to Mars through asteroid and comet impacts

By SpaceRef Editor
March 12, 2018
Filed under , , ,

Kateryna Frantseva, Michael Mueller, Inge Loes ten Kate, Floris F.S. van der Tak, Sarah Greenstreet
(Submitted on 8 Mar 2018)

Given rapid photodissociation and photodegradation, the recently discovered organics in the Martian subsurface and atmosphere were probably delivered in geologically recent times. Possible parent bodies are C-type asteroids, comets, and interplanetary dust particles (IDPs). The dust infall rate was estimated, using different methods, to be between $0.71$ and $2.96 \times 10^6$ kg/yr (Nesvorny et al., 2011, Borin et al., 2017, Crismani et al., 2017); assuming a carbon content of 10% (Flynn, 1996), this implies an IDP carbon flux of $0.07 – 0.3 \times 10^6$ kg/yr. We calculate for the first time the carbon flux from impacts of asteroids and comets. To this end, we perform dynamical simulations of impact rates on Mars. We use the N-body integrator RMVS/Swifter to propagate the Sun and the eight planets from their current positions. We separately add comets and asteroids to the simulations as massless test particles, based on their current orbital elements, yielding Mars impact rates of $4.34\times10^{-3}$ comets/Myr and 3.3 asteroids/Myr. We estimate the global carbon flux on Mars from cometary impacts to be $\sim 0.013 \times 10^{6}$~kg/yr within an order of magnitude, while asteroids deliver $\sim 0.05 \times 10^6$~kg/yr. These values correspond to $\sim 4-19 \%$ and $\sim 17-71 \%$, respectively, of the IDP-borne carbon flux estimated by Nesvorny et al. 2011, Borin et al. 2017 and Crismani et al. 2017. Unlike the spatially homogeneous IDP infall, impact ejecta are distributed locally, concentrated around the impact site. We find organics from asteroids and comets to dominate over IDP-borne organics at distances up to 150~km from the crater center. Our results may be important for the interpretation of in situ detections of organics on Mars.

Comments:    30 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in Icarus
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1803.03270 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1803.03270v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Kateryna Frantseva 
[v1] Thu, 8 Mar 2018 19:00:03 GMT (2659kb,D)

SpaceRef staff editor.