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Numerical modeling of impact erosion of atmospheres: Preliminary resultsIt is clear from the great diversity of atmospheres among the terrestrial planets that their formation and evolution must have depended on a balance among a number of different processes. One of these processes is atmospheric erosion by impacts, which may have been particularly effective on Mars. The reason is that geomorphic evidence on Mars suggests that this planet had, early in its history, dense enough atmosphere to sustain active precipitation over geologically significant periods of time. Analytic calculations indicate that neither the projectile entering the atmosphere nor the main crater ejecta can cause the lose of significant amounts of atmosphere. The vapor plume that is formed, however, expands rapidly as its internal energy is converted into kinetic energy, and may blow off the overlying atmosphere. A model of this part of the impact/atmosphere interaction predicts Mars could have lost a substantial early atmosphere by impact erosion alone. Although our more detailed calculations, which took into account the anisotropy of the atmosphere with respect to zenith angle, show that the process isn't quite as effective, they still indicate the probability of substantial atmospheric loss from Mars. The first results from 2-D hydrocode runs are discussed. These include two runs which make most of the same simplifying approximations as the analytic models, in order to compare the analytic and numerical results directly, and one run (as yet incomplete) that models the full impact.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Vickery, A. M. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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