View Full Version : Can Regime II triboelectricity resolve the Martian methane scrubbing problem?

2014-Jun-11, 11:15 PM
Can Regime II triboelectricity resolve the Martian methane scrubbing problem?

A new paper out today in condensed physics points out a new phenomenon of Regime II triboelectricity. ( Spreading of triboelectrically charged granular matter
http://arxiv.org/abs/1406.2564 )

The scale of the phenomenon in the experiments is in the mm range, not the meter to kilometer range needed for efficient large scale methane scrubbing on Mars. All the same, the extreme low humidity and planetary scale dustiness of Mars may allow inquiry. Regime I triboelectricity occurs naturally in Martian dust devils and is an efficient local scrubber of methane.

On Mars, methane should have a half-life of around 300 years but methane from plumes is gone after a year typically. Its destruction is as much a mystery as how it is sourced. A few local, near ground dust devils would not suffice for planetary destruction.

So the question is whether, under current Martian conditions, a Regime II triboelectric phenomenon can suffice to produce the needed capacity for methane destruction. Perhaps MAVEN will offer constraints to rule out this hypothesis.

John Mendenhall
2014-Jun-12, 12:18 AM
I'm missing something here. Like, what is this about? I looked at the abstract, it didn't help.

Ara Pacis
2014-Jun-12, 07:05 PM
Yeah, I'm not sure how static electricity reduces methane, unless you mean it starts fires. Is there enough oxygen on Mars to burn the methane?

2014-Jun-12, 09:12 PM
Perhaps this Atreya et al paper will help:
Oxidant Enhancement in Martian Dust Devils and
Storms: Implications for Life and Habitability
Press release:
Whirling dust devils bust martian methane

Atreya also led research that looked into shallower production of methane via abiotic serpentinization methods to account for the monitored methane.

H2O2 could be borne on atmospheric dust particles where the iron content is not yet completely oxidized. This surface super-oxidant can also act as a catalyst rather than just as a reactant. Direct photolysis is not sufficient to account for the fast loss of methane.
The intent for starting the thread was to consider the impact of Regime II triboelectricy, an apparently new phenomenon, on the problem of how methane is so efficiently destroyed. If it is supposed to last 300 years on Mars, as compared to 30 years on Earth, it should have spread evenly over the atmosphere after plume release. Instead, later post plume measurements are below detector levels which is the source of the mystery.

2014-Jun-23, 08:43 PM
Evidence for a bimodal distribution of dust on Mars
Abstract (full article paywalled):
Evidence for a bimodal size distribution for the suspended aerosol particles on Mars
Press release:
New Type of Dust in Martian Atmosphere Discovered
http://mipt.ru/en/news/new_mars_dust_2014 (courtesy of EurekAlert)

From the Eldar Zeev Noe Dobrea et al paper on Hydrated minerals on Mars (p.29) sometimes known as Aqueous Minerals on Mars:
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/1928805_H2O-_and_OH-bearing_minerals_in_the_Martian_regolith_Analysis_ of_1997_observations_from_HSTNICMOS
“On the other hand, we do not find evidence for hydrated minerals either in the intermediate terrains (as postulated by Murchie et al., 2000), or anywhere else in the hemisphere observed by NICMOS. Our observations indicate a strong negative band depth at 1.45-Ám in this terrain, which makes it distinct from other terrains in the hemisphere, but it is not consistent with the occurrence of hydrate or hydroxide minerals there. This discrepancy could be the result of different sensitivities to mineral phases between the NICMOS and ISM data sets, or it could be related to an atmospheric aerosol or viewing geometry effect that is not being properly accounted for in one or the other data set.”