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Chemical pathway analysis of the Martian atmosphere: CO_2-formation pathways

Stock, Joachim W. and Boxe, Christopher S. and Lehmann, Ralph and Grenfell, J. Lee and Patzer, A. Beate C. and Rauer, Heike and Yung, Yuk L. (2012) Chemical pathway analysis of the Martian atmosphere: CO_2-formation pathways. Icarus, 219 (1). pp. 13-24. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.02.010.

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The chemical composition of a planetary atmosphere plays an important role for atmospheric structure, stability, and evolution. Potentially complex interactions between chemical species do not often allow for an easy understanding of the underlying chemical mechanisms governing the atmospheric composition. In particular, trace species can affect the abundance of major species by acting in catalytic cycles. On Mars, such cycles even control the abundance of its main atmospheric constituent CO_2. The identification of catalytic cycles (or more generally chemical pathways) by hand is quite demanding. Hence, the application of computer algorithms is beneficial in order to analyze complex chemical reaction networks. Here, we have performed the first automated quantified chemical pathways analysis of the Martian atmosphere with respect to CO_2-production in a given reaction system. For this, we applied the Pathway Analysis Program (PAP) to output data from the Caltech/JPL photochemical Mars model. All dominant chemical pathways directly related to the global CO_2-production have been quantified as a function of height up to 86 km. We quantitatively show that CO_2-production is dominated by chemical pathways involving HO_x and O_x. In addition, we find that NO_x in combination with HO_x and O_x exhibits a non-negligible contribution to CO_2-production, especially in Mars’ lower atmosphere. This study reveals that only a small number of chemical pathways contribute significantly to the atmospheric abundance of CO_2 on Mars; their contributions to CO_2-production vary considerably with altitude. This analysis also endorses the importance of transport processes in governing CO_2-stability in the Martian atmosphere. Lastly, we identify a previously unknown chemical pathway involving HO_x, O_x, and HO_2-photodissociation, contributing 8% towards global CO_2-production by chemical pathways using recommended up-to-date values for reaction rate coefficients.

Item Type:Article
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Yung, Yuk L.0000-0002-4263-2562
Additional Information:© 2012 Elsevier. Received 19 October 2011. Revised 26 January 2012. Accepted 10 February 2012. Available online 22 February 2012. This research has been partly supported by the Helmholtz Association through the research alliance "Planetary Evolution and Life".
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Helmholtz AssociationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Atmospheres, Chemistry; Atmospheres, Composition; Mars; Mars, Atmosphere; Photochemistry
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120817-110427324
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Official Citation:Joachim W. Stock, Christopher S. Boxe, Ralph Lehmann, J. Lee Grenfell, A. Beate C. Patzer, Heike Rauer, Yuk L. Yung, Chemical pathway analysis of the Martian atmosphere: CO2-formation pathways, Icarus, Volume 219, Issue 1, May 2012, Pages 13-24, ISSN 0019-1035, 10.1016/j.icarus.2012.02.010. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:33292
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:17 Aug 2012 18:39
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 21:33

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