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The significance of trace constituents in the solar Sushil K. Atreya

Summary: The significance of trace constituents in the solar
Sushil K. Atreya
Received 30th June 2010, Accepted 2nd July 2010
DOI: 10.1039/c005460g
Trace or minor constituents are key to the origin, maintenance, and the eventual
fate of atmospheres of solar system objects. In this Introductory Paper, I
illustrate this point by discussing certain cross cutting themes, including the
chemistry of the formation and stability of a nitrogen atmosphere on Titan and
the Earth, the chemical and biochemical origin of methane on the terrestrial
planets and Titan, production and role of photochemical haze and aerosols,
especially on Titan, and the significance of electro-photochemistry for
habitability of Mars.
1. Introduction
Nitrogen is ubiquitous on terrestrial planets, comprising nearly three quarters by
volume of the Earth's atmosphere and three percent each of the atmospheres of
Mars and Venus today. However, the detection of a massive atmosphere of nitrogen
with a surface pressure of 1500 millibar on a comparatively small and very cold
moon Titan of Saturn by Voyager in 1980 was surprising. Even-smaller objects,
Neptune's moon Triton and Pluto, are known to have a nitrogen atmosphere, but


Source: Atreya, Sushil - Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science, University of Michigan
Helal, Abdelsalam - Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, University of Florida


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences; Physics