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Paper: CO2 Clathrates on Mars and the CH4 Question: A Laboratory Investigation
Volume: 420, Bioastronomy 2007: Molecules, Microbes and Extraterrestrial Life
Page: 123
Authors: Trainer, M. G.; McKay, C. P.; Tolbert, M. A.; Toon, O. B.
Abstract: Recent detection of methane (CH4) on Mars has generated interest in evaluating the source of this trace species and its role in the current atmosphere. While the photochemistry of CH4 is well understood, little is known about the heterogeneous (gas-surface) reactions that may take place on Mars. Understanding the complete processing of CH4 will help determine whether this trace species may be an indicator of past or present life. The existence of currently unknown sources or sinks of CH4 may help explain the variability observed in CH4 concentration, despite its long photochemical lifetime. It has been suggested that the Martian polar deposits may contain carbon dioxide (CO2) clathrate hydrates. These clathrates may store large amounts of CO2, and may also trap CH4 molecules from the atmosphere. We have begun a series of laboratory studies to explore the possibility that CO2 clathrates may serve as a sink for CH4 gas on Mars. Here we report the first results on the formation and characteristics of CO2 clathrates at low temperatures and the ability of these structures to serve as a sink for CH4 on Mars.
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