Photo-induced fractionation of water isotopomers in the Martian atmosphere

Bing Ming Cheng*, Eh Piew Chew, Chin Ping Liu, Mohammed Bahou, Yuan-Pern Lee, Yuk L. Yung, M. F. Gerstell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The history and size of the water reservoirs on early Mars can be constrained using isotopic ratios of deuterium to hydrogen. We present new laboratory measurements of the ultraviolet cross-sections of H2O and its isotopomers, and modeling calculations in support of a photo-induced fractionation effect (PHIFE), that reconciles a discrepancy between past theoretical modeling and recent observations. This supports the hypothesis that Mars had an early warm atmosphere and has lost at least a 50-m global layer of water. Likely applications of PHIFE to other planetary atmospheres are sketched.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3657-3660
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - 15 Dec 1999

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