Fullerenes and the Nature of Planetary GasesOver the past several decades, two issues have dominated the discussion of planetary noble gas patterns: 1) the general resemblance of the noble gas abundances in carbonaceous chondrites to those measured in the Earth s atmosphere and; 2) atmospheric inventories of argon and neon that fall off significantly with increasing distance from the Sun. The recognition of the latter has led to the conclusion that the planetary component is not found on planets. In particular, the inability to explain the missing xenon reservoir, once thought to be sequestered in crustal rocks has been extremely troublesome. Some models have focused on various fractionations of solar wind rather than condensation as the process for the evolution of noble gases in the terrestrial planets. However, these models cannot explain the observed gradient of the gases, nor do they account for the similar Ne/Ar ratios and the dissimilar planetary Ar/Kr ratios. More recent studies have focused on hydrodynamic escape to explain the fractionation of gases, like neon, in the atmosphere and the mantle. Escape theory also seems to explain, in part, the isotopically heavy argon on Mars, however, it does not explain the discrepancies observed for the abundances of argon and neon on Venus and the Earth. This has led to the assumption that some combination of solar wind implantation, absorption and escape are needed to explain the nature of planetary noble gases.
Becker, Luann (California Univ. Santa Barbara, CA, United States)
Poreda, Robert J. (Rochester Univ. NY, United States)
Nuth, Joe (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)