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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: In previous work we proposed a hypothesis wherein debris moving along cometary orbits interacting with Mars (e.g. meteor showers) may be responsible for transient local increases of methane observed in the martian atmosphere (henceforth 'the hypothesis' ). An examination of the literature of methane detections dating back to 1997 showed that each detection was made, at most, 16 days after an interaction between Mars and one of seven small bodies (six comets and the unusual object 5335 Damocles)[ibid]. Two observations of high-altitude, transient visible plumes on Mars also correlate with cometary interactions, one occurring on the same day as the plume observation and the second observation occurring three days afterwards, and with two of the same seven small bodies. The proposed mechanism for methane production is dissemination of carbon-rich cometary material on infall into Mars' atmosphere followed by methane production via UV photolysis, a process that has been observed in laboratory experiments. Given this set of observations it is necessary and indeed conducive to the scientific process to explore and robustly test the hypothesis.
    Keywords: Space Sciences (General)
    Type: JSC-E-DAA-TN52121 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 19-23 Mar. 2018; Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: The identification of lunar resources such as water is a fundamental component of the the NASA Vision for Space Exploration. The Lunar Prospector mission detected high concentrations of hydrogen at the lunar poles that may indicate the presence of water or other volatiles in the lunar regolith [1]. One explanation for the presence of enhanced hydrogen in permanently shadowed crater regions is long term trapping of water-ice delivered by comets, asteroids, and other meteoritic material that have bombarded the Moon over the last 4 billion years [2]. It is also possible that the hydrogen signal at the lunar poles is due to hydrogen implanted by the solar wind which is delayed from diffusing out of the regolith by the cold temperatures [3]. Previous measurements of the lunar atmosphere by the LACE experiment on Apollo 17, suggested the presence of cold trapped vola'tiles that were expelled by solar heating [4]. In situ composition and isotopic analyses of the lunar regolith will be required to establish the abundance, origin, and distribution of water-ice and other volatiles at the lunar poles. Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith (VAPoR) on the Moon using mass spectrometry is one technique that should be considered. The VAPoR pyrolysis-mass spectrometer (pyr-MS) instrument concept study was selected for funding in 2007 by the NASA Lunar Sortie Science Opportunities (LSSO) Program. VAPoR is a miniature version of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite currently being developed at NASA Goddard for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory mission (Fig. 1).
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
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