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Martian Dust Devil Electron Avalanche Process and Associated ElectrochemistryMars' dynamic atmosphere displays localized dust devils and larger, global dust storms. Based on terrestrial analog studies, electrostatic modeling, and laboratory work these features will contain large electrostatic fields formed via triboelectric processes. In the low-pressure Martian atmosphere, these fields may create an electron avalanche and collisional plasma due to an increase in electron density driven by the internal electrical forces. To test the hypothesis that an electron avalanche is sustained under these conditions, a self-consistent atmospheric process model is created including electron impact ionization sources and electron losses via dust absorption, electron dissociation attachment, and electron/ion recombination. This new model is called the Dust Devil Electron Avalanche Model (DDEAM). This model solves simultaneously nine continuity equations describing the evolution of the primary gaseous chemical species involved in the electrochemistry. DDEAM monitors the evolution of the electrons and primary gas constituents, including electron/water interactions. We especially focus on electron dynamics and follow the electrons as they evolve in the E field driven collisional gas. When sources and losses are self-consistently included in the electron continuity equation, the electron density grows exponentially with increasing electric field, reaching an equilibrium that forms a sustained time-stable collisional plasma. However, the character of this plasma differs depending upon the assumed growth rate saturation process (chemical saturation versus space charge). DDEAM also shows the possibility of the loss of atmospheric methane as a function of electric field due to electron dissociative attachment of the hydrocarbon. The methane destruction rates are presented and can be included in other larger atmospheric models.
Document ID
20110013534
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Authors
Jackson, Telana L. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Farrell, William M. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Delory, Gregory T. (California Univ. Berkeley, CA, United States)
Nithianandam, Jeyasingh (Morgan State Univ. Baltimore, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
May 22, 2010
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets
Volume: 115
ISSN: 0148-0227
Subject Category
Geophysics
Report/Patent Number
GSFC.JA.4596.2011
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other