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The phase of water ice which forms in cold clouds in the mesospheres of Mars, Venus and Earth
  • Thomas Mangan,
  • John Plane,
  • Benjamin Murray
Thomas Mangan
School of Chemistry, University of Leeds

Corresponding Author:chmtpm@leeds.ac.uk

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John Plane
School of Chemistry, University of Leeds
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Benjamin Murray
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
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Water ice clouds form in the mesospheres of terrestrial planets in the solar system (and most likely elsewhere) by vapor deposition at low pressures and temperatures. Under these conditions a range of crystalline and amorphous phases of ice might form. The phase is important because it influences nucleation kinetics, density, vapor pressure over the solid, growth rates and particle shape. In the past the temperature range over which these different phases exist has been defined on the basis of depositing ice at low temperature and warming it while observing phase changes. However, the direct deposition of ice at a range of temperatures relevant for the terrestrial planets has not been systematically investigated. Here we present X-ray Diffraction (XRD) measurements of water ice deposited at temperature intervals between 88 and 145 K in a vacuum chamber. XRD patterns showed that low density amorphous ice was formed at ≤ 120 K, stacking disordered ice I formed from 121 – 135 K and hexagonal ice I formed at 140 and 145 K. Direct deposition results in the stable hexagonal phase at much lower temperatures than when warming stacking disordered ice. All three phases of water ice observed here are possible in clouds in the mesospheres of Earth and Mars, while on Venus only amorphous ice is likely to form.