Mars Science

Mars & Life papers are still in review,
but soon they should be ready ;-)...

And check out our white paper on Mars Deep Access.

Below in "Further Reading" you can find general
geodynamics/outgassing work relevant for Mars.

Mars Heartbeat in 4D
A rocky planet, from deep interior to atmosphere has the potential to generate essential nutrients and redox gradients critical for the emergence and the evolution of life. I will present first results on two very different large-scale planetary processes that generate nutrients and redox gradients on Mars—within the deep interior and in shallow brines— across time (from planet formation to modern day) and space (local resolution, global coverage).

We use time-dependent geodynamic models, capable of computing the 3D temperature profile – self-consistently accounting for serpentinization and radiolysis reactions as a function of subsurface temperature, pressure, and chemistry – throughout the last 4.5 billion years. Additionally, we couple a global climate model (the Mars Weather Research and Forecasting, MarsWRF). MarsWRF is a global model based on the terrestrial mesoscale WRF model and is a Mars-specific implementation of the PlanetWRF GCM [8], accounting for a changing climate with variable planet obliquity through time.

Geodynamic and climate models combined allow us to compute for Mars the 4D distribution (one dimension in time and 3D distribution in space) of 1) hydrogen-rich reducing subsurface environments, driven by serpentinization and radiolysis of water, and 2) oxygen-rich regions as a product of atmosphere-brine (e.g., perchlorate brines) interactions governed by climate and surface chemistry.

We will show time-dependent spatial maps of such zones, suggesting a large potential for aerobic respiration on Mars today and in its recent geologic past (previous 20 Ma) varying with obliquity changes throughout time, as well as the potential for locally large modern-day hydrogen fluxes.

These two examples provide insight into the emerging capabilities of modeling the Martian habitability in three spatial dimensions with increasing resolution and across time, from planet formation to today.

Further Reading

  • Stamenković, V., Höink, T., Lenardic, T., 2016. The importance of temporal stress variation for the initiation of plate tectonics. JGR Planets, 121, 1–20, doi:10.1002/2016JE004994.
  • Stamenković, V., Seager, S., 2016. Emerging possibilities and insuperable limitations of exogeodynamics: the example of plate tectonics. The Astrophysical Journal, 825, 78-95. Stamenković, V., Breuer, D., 2014. The tectonic mode of rocky planets, Part 1: driving factors, models & parameters. Icarus 234, 174-193.
  • Stamenković, V., Noack, L., Breuer, D., Spohn, T., 2012. The influence of pressure-dependent viscosity on the thermal evolution of super-Earths. The Astrophysical Journal, 748, 41-63.
  • Stamenković, V., Breuer, D., Spohn, T., 2011. Thermal and transport properties of mantle rock at high pressure: applications to super-Earths. Icarus, 216, 572–596.
  • Stamenković, V., Frank, S., 2011 & 2015. Rheology of planetary interiors. In: Gargaud, M., et al., (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Part 19. Springer, 1452-1455.
  • Stamenković, V., 2011, 2015. Serpentinization. In: Gargaud, M., et al., (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Part 19. Springer, 1505-1506.
  • Zsom, A., Seager, S., De Wit, J., Stamenković, V., 2013. Towards the minimum inner edge distance of the habitable zone. The Astrophysical Journal, 778, 109-126.
  • Bourrier, V., de Wit, J., Bolmont, E., Stamenković, V., + 12 co-authors, 2017. Temporal Evolution of the High-energy Irradiation and Water Content of TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets. The Astronomical Journal, 154, 121-137.