Comparing Meteorite and Spacecraft Noble Gas Measurements to Trace Processes in the Martian Crust and Atmosphere

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Timothy D Swindle, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
Our knowledge of the noble gas abundances and isotopic compositions in the Martian crust and atmosphere come from two sources, measurements of meteorites from Mars and in situ measurements by spacecraft. Measurements by the Viking landers had large uncertainties, but were precise enough to tie the meteorites to Mars. Hence most of the questions we have are currently defined by meteorite measurements. Curiosity’s SAM has confirmed that the Ar isotopic composition of the atmosphere is highly fractionated, presumably representing atmospheric loss that can now be modeled with more confidence. What turns out to be a more difficult trait to explain is the fact that the ratio of Kr/Xe in nakhlites, chassignites and ALH84001 is distinct from the atmospheric ratio, as defined by measurements from shergottites. This discrepancy has been suggested to be a result of atmosphere/groundwater/rock interaction, polar clathrate formation, or perhaps local temperature conditions. More detailed atmospheric measurements, along with targeted simulation experiments, will be needed to make full use of this anomaly.