232 research outputs found

    Replacement and late formation of atmospheric N2 on undifferentiated Titan by impacts

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    Saturn’s moon, Titan, has remarkable surface features—a massive N2 atmosphere and hydrological cycle of CH4—that are often compared with that of Earth^1^. However, the origin and evolution of Titan’s atmosphere remains largely unknown. The proposed formation mechanisms for Titan’s N2 require a prolonged, warm proto-atmosphere during accretion^2-4^. These mechanisms accordingly would not have worked efficiently if Titan stayed cold, as indicated by the incompletely differentiated interior observed by Cassini^5^. Because formation of a massive secondary atmosphere on a planetary body would associate with a major differentiation of its sold body during accretion^6–8^, the presence of such an atmosphere on undifferentiated cold Titan poses a serious dilemma on our view of how planetary bodies develop atmospheres. Here we propose a new mechanism for the post-accretion formation of Titan’s N2 to resolve this problem: conversion and replenishment of N2 from NH3 contained in Titan by impacts during the late heavy bombardment (LHB)^9^. Our results show that Titan, regardless of its thermal history, would acquire sufficient N2 to account for the current atmosphere during the LHB and that most of the pre-LHB atmosphere would have replaced by impact-induced N2. This is the first scenario capable of generating a N2-rich and nearly primordial Ar-free atmosphere on undifferentiated cold Titan. We also suggest that Titan’s N2 was delivered from a different source in the solar nebula compared with Earth and that the origins of N2 on Titan and Triton are fundamentally different with that of N2 on Pluto

    Was Martian mantle wet? A possible consequence of rapid core formation

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    Degassing of H2O in the planetary interior possibly plays an important role in the evolution of surface environment as well as geologic activity on the terrestrial planets. Mars may be such a planet that well preserves the materials and the geologic features directly related to early evolution of H2O. H2O content in the interior of proto-Mars during accretion and also core formation were investigated. Geodetic data shows that Mars has a dense core. The existence of iron-rich core on Mars may be also supported by the depletion of siderophile elements in SNC meteorites assuming that these samples came from Mars. Isotope systematics of these meteorites indicate that the core formation occurred very early, probably concurrently with Mars formation. Considering the kinetics of metal segregation from silicate, the melting of silicate is likely to precede the core formation. Once the core formation occurs, substantial amount of gravitational energy is released and thus the planetary interior is heated. This energy may be large enough to keep the silicate material in partially molten state along with the accretional heating. Under such circumstances, the silicate melt probably migrates to the surface. Early crustal formation, therefore, is also likely to be associated with the core formation

    An attempt to reproduce petrographic features of mesosiderites

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    The Tenth Symposium on Polar Science/Poster presentations: [OA] Antarctic meteorites, Wed. 4 Dec. / Entrance Hall (1st floor), National Institute of Polar Researc

    Comet 9P/Tempel 1: Interpretation with the Deep Impact Results

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    According to our common understandings, the original surface of a short-period comet nucleus has been lost by sublimation processes during its close approaches to the Sun. Sublimation results in the formation of a dust mantle on the retreated surface and in chemical differentiation of ices over tens or hundreds of meters below the mantle. In the course of NASA's Deep Impact mission, optical and infrared imaging observations of the ejecta plume were conducted by several researchers, but their interpretations of the data came as a big surprise: (1) The nucleus of comet 9P/Tempel 1 is free of a dust mantle, but maintains its pristine crust of submicron-sized carbonaceous grains; (2) Primordial materials are accessible already at a depth of several tens of cm with abundant silicate grains of submicrometer sizes. In this study, we demonstrate that a standard model of cometary nuclei explains well available observational data: (1) A dust mantle with a thickness of ~1-2 m builds up on the surface, where compact aggregates larger than tens of micrometers dominate; (2) Large fluffy aggregates are embedded in chemically differentiated layers as well as in the deepest part of the nucleus with primordial materials. We conclude that the Deep Impact results do not need any peculiar view of a comet nucleus.Comment: 11 pages, 1 figure, 1 table. ApJ letters, 673, L199-20

    Marine Impacts and Environmental Consequences—Drilling of the Mjølnir Structure, the Barents Sea

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    In September 2007, thirty-three scientists attended an international workshop in Longyearbyen (Svalbard, Norway) to discuss impacts of extraterrestrial bodies into marine environment and to prepare for the drilling of the 142-Ma-old Mjølnir impact structure in the Barents Sea (Fig. 1; Gudlaugsson, 1993; Dypvik et al., 1996, Tsikalas et al., 1998). A field trip visited the ejecta layer in the Janusfjellet Mountain in Isfjorden, just outside Longyearbyen (Fig. 2). The workshop focused on two topics: 1) mechanisms of marine impact cratering including ejecta formation and distribution, geothermal reactions, and the formation of tsunami, and 2) environmental effects of marine impacts. Both topics are highly relevant to the Mjølnir event and the geological evolution of the Arctic, as well as to the biological changes at the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary. Against thisbackground were a) concrete drilling targets formulated, b) plans outlined for compiling data from existing geological and geophysical surveys as the basis for Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) drilling proposals, and c) a steering group and science teams established for compiling old and new material as a foundation for the developmentof drilling proposal

    Shock vaporization/devolatilization of evaporitic minerals, halite and gypsum, in an open system investigated by a two-stage light gas gun

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    Dry lakebeds might constitute large volatile reservoirs on Mars. Hypervelocity impacts onto ancient dry lakebeds would have affected the volatile distribution on Mars. We developed a new experimental method to investigate the response of evaporitic minerals (halite and gypsum) to impact shocks in an open system. This technique does not result in chemical contamination from the operation of the gas gun. The technique is termed the two-valve method and the gun system is located in the Planetary Exploration Research Center, Chiba Institute of Technology, Japan. We detected the vaporization of halite at 31 GPa and devolatilization from gypsum at 11 GPa, suggesting that impact-induced volatile release from dry lakebeds has periodically occurred throughout Martian history. The vaporization of halite deposits might have enhanced the production of perchlorates, which are found globally on Mars. The water loss from gypsum possibly explains the coexisting types of Ca-sulfates found in Gale Crater.Comment: 17 pages, 4 figures, 1 supporting information, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letter