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Evolution and Transport of Water in the Upper Regolith of MarsLong standing theoretical predictions [1-3], as well as recent spacecraft observations [4] indicate that large quantities of ice is present in the high latitudes upper decimeters to meters of the Martian regolith. At shallower depths and warmer locations small amounts of H2O, either adsorbed or free, may be present transiently. An understanding of the evolution of water based on theoretical and experimental considerations of the processes operating at the Martian environment is required. In particular, the porosity, diffusivity, and permeability of soils and their effect on water vapor transport under Mars-like conditions have been estimated, but experimental validation of such models is lacking. Goal: Three related mechanisms may affect water transport in the upper Martian regolith. 1) diffusion along a concentration gradient under isobaric conditions, 2) diffusion along a thermal gradient, which may give rise to a concentration gradient as ice sublimes or molecules desorb from the regolith, and 3) hydraulic flow, or mass motion in response to a pressure gradient. Our combined theoretical and experimental investigation seeks to disentangle these mechanisms and determine which process(es) are dominant in the upper regolith over various timescales. A detailed one-dimensional model of the upper regolith is being created which incorporates water adsorption/ desorption, condensation, porosity, diffusivity, and permeability effects. Certain factors such as diffusivity are difficult to determine theoretically due to the wide range of intrinsic grain properties such as particle sizes, shapes, packing densities, and emergent properties such as tortuosity. An experiment is being designed which will allow us to more accurately determine diffusivity, permeability, and water desorption isotherms for regolith simulants.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hudson, T. L. (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Aharonson, O. (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Schorghofer, N. (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Hecht, M. H. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Bridges, N. T. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Green, J. R. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Sixth International Conference on Mars
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20030066530Analytic PrimarySixth International Conference on Mars
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