Search for hydrogen peroxide in the Martian atmosphere by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer onboard Mars Express

Shohei Aoki, Marco Giuranna, Yasumasa Kasaba, Hiromu Nakagawa, Giuseppe Sindoni, Anna Geminale and Vittorio Formisano
January, 2015

We searched for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the Martian atmosphere using data measured by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) onboard Mars Express during five Martian years (MY27-31). It is well known that H2O2 plays a key role in the oxidizing capacity of the Martian atmosphere. However, only a few studies based on ground-based observations can be found in the literature. Here, we performed the first analysis of H2O2 using long-term measurements by a spacecraft-borne instrument. We used the ν4 band of H2O2 in the spectral range between 359 cm-1and 382 cm-1 where strong features of H2O2 are present around 362 cm-1 and 379 cm-1. Since the features were expected to be very weak even at the strong band, sensitive data calibrations were performed and a large number of spectra were selected and averaged. We made three averaged spectra for different seasons over relatively low latitudes (50°S-50°N). We found features of H2O2 at 379 cm-1, whereas no clear features were detected at 362 cm-1 due to large amounts of uncertainty in the data. The derived mixing ratios of H2O2 were close to the detection limits: 16 ± 19 ppb at Ls = 0-120°, 35 ± 32 ppb at Ls = 120-240°, and 41 ± 28 ppb at Ls = 240-360°. The retrieved value showed the detection of H2O2 only for the third seasonal period, and the values in the other periods provided the upper limits. These long-term averaged abundances derived by the PFS generally agreed with the ones reported by ground-based observations. From our derived mixing ratio of H2O2, the lifetime of CH4 in the Martian atmosphere is estimated to be several decades in the shortest case. Our results and sporadic detections of CH4 suggest the presence of strong CH4sinks not subject to atmospheric oxidation.

Icarus, Volume 245, p. 177-183. DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2014.09.034.