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Nitrogen Fixation at Paleo-Mars in Icy Climates
  • +4
  • Danica Adams,
  • Armin Kleinböhl,
  • Franklin P Mills,
  • Run-Lie Shia,
  • King-Fai Li,
  • Robin Wordsworth,
  • Yuk Yung
Danica Adams
NHFP Sagan Fellow, NASA Hubble Fellowship Program, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA, Harvard University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Armin Kleinböhl
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
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Franklin P Mills
Australian National University, Fenner School of Environment and Society & Space Science Institute
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Run-Lie Shia
California Institute of Technology
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King-Fai Li
University of California, Riverside
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Robin Wordsworth
Harvard University
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Yuk Yung
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Recent findings by the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) have confirmed the presence of nitrates near Gale Crater on Mars. In this work, we consider the formation and deposition of HNOx species in cold early Mars climates. We find that solar energetic particles could facilitate nitrogen fixation by photochemically generating pernitric and nitric acid, which then deposit onto icy particles that settle onto Mars’ surface. This study demonstrates that such deposition would be more efficient under higher atmospheric pressures, consistent with Mars’ ancient atmosphere, and could account for the nitrate levels detected by the MSL. We find a more rapid deposition rate for pernitric acid over nitric acid (in agreement with Smith et al., 2014), and a significant enhancement of deposition rates through consideration of deposition onto icy particles. This distinction could be crucial for interpreting the MSL data.
18 Apr 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
19 Apr 2024Published in ESS Open Archive