Isotope Ratios of H, C, and O in CO2 and H2O of the Martian Atmosphere

Chris R. Webster, Paul R. Mahaffy, Gregory J. Flesch, Paul B. Niles, John H. Jones, Laurie A. Leshin, Sushil K. Atreya, Jennifer C. Stern, Lance E. Christensen, Tobias Owen, Heather Franz, Robert O. Pepin, Andrew Steele, Mars Science Laboratory Science Team

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200 Citations (Scopus)


Stable isotope ratios of H, C, and O are powerful indicators of a wide variety of planetary geophysical processes, and for Mars they reveal the record of loss of its atmosphere and subsequent interactions with its surface such as carbonate formation. We report in situ measurements of the isotopic ratios of D/H and 18O/16O in water and 13C/12C, 18O/16O, 17O/16O, and 13C18O/12C16O in carbon dioxide, made in the martian atmosphere at Gale Crater from the Curiosity rover using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM)’s tunable laser spectrometer (TLS). Comparison between our measurements in the modern atmosphere and those of martian meteorites such as ALH 84001 implies that the martian reservoirs of CO2 and H2O were largely established ~4 billion years ago, but that atmospheric loss or surface interaction may be still ongoing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-263
Issue number6143
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

The research described here was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.


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