Sunday, August 4, 2013

1308.0190 (N. V. Erkaev et al.)

Escape of the martian protoatmosphere and initial water inventory    [PDF]

N. V. Erkaev, H. Lammer, L. Elkins-Tanton, A. Stökl, P. Odert, E. Marcq, E. A. Dorfi, K. G. Kislyakova, Yu. N. Kulikov, M. Leitzinger, M. Güdel
Latest research in planet formation indicate that Mars formed within a few million years (Myr) and remained a planetary embryo that never grew to a more massive planet. It can also be expected from dynamical models, that most of Mars' building blocks consisted of material that formed in orbital locations just beyond the ice line which could have contained ~0.1-0.2 wt. % of H2O. By using these constraints, we estimate the nebula-captured and catastrophically outgassed volatile contents during the solidification of Mars' magma ocean and apply a hydrodynamic upper atmosphere model for the study of the soft X-ray and extreme ultraviolet (XUV) driven thermal escape of the martian protoatmosphere during the early active epoch of the young Sun. The amount of gas that has been captured from the protoplanetary disk into the planetary atmosphere is calculated by solving the hydrostatic structure equations in the protoplanetary nebula. Depending on nebular properties such as the dust grain depletion factor, planetesimal accretion rates and luminosities, hydrogen envelopes with masses >=3x10^{19} g to <=6.5x10^{22} g could have been captured from the nebula around early Mars. Depending of the before mentioned parameters, due to the planets low gravity and a solar XUV flux that was ~100 times stronger compared to the present value, our results indicate that early Mars would have lost its nebular captured hydrogen envelope after the nebula gas evaporated, during a fast period of ~0.1-7.5 Myr. After the solidification of early Mars' magma ocean, catastrophically outgassed volatiles with the amount of ~50-250 bar H2O and ~10-55 bar CO2 could have been lost during ~0.4-12 Myr, if the impact related energy flux of large planetesimals and small embryos to the planet's surface lasted long enough, that the steam atmosphere could have been prevented from condensing. If this was not the case... (continued)
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