Fully Coupled Photochemistry of the Deuterated Ionosphere of Mars and Its Effects on Escape of H and D

Eryn Cangi, Michael Chaffin, Roger Yelle, Bethan Gregory, Justin Deighan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Although deuterium (D) on Mars has received substantial attention, the deuterated ionosphere remains relatively unstudied. This means that we also know very little about non-thermal D escape from Mars, since it is primarily driven by excess energy imparted to atoms produced in ion-neutral reactions. Most D escape from Mars is expected to be non-thermal, highlighting a gap in our understanding of water loss from Mars. In this work, we set out to fill this knowledge gap. To accomplish our goals, we use an upgraded 1D photochemical model that fully couples ions and neutrals and does not assume photochemical equilibrium. To our knowledge, such a model has not been applied to Mars previously. We model the atmosphere during solar minimum, mean, and maximum, and find that the deuterated ionosphere behaves similarly to the H-bearing ionosphere, but that non-thermal escape on the order of 8,000–9,000 cm−2 s−1 dominates atomic D loss under all solar conditions. The total fractionation factor, f, is f = 0.04–0.07, and integrated water loss is 147–158 m global equivalent layer. This is still less than geomorphological estimates. Deuterated ions at Mars are likely difficult to measure with current techniques due to low densities and mass degeneracies with more abundant H ions. Future missions wishing to measure the deuterated ionosphere in situ will need to develop innovative techniques to do so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022JE007713
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Mars
  • atmospheric escape
  • ionosphere
  • non-thermal
  • photochemistry
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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