Production of nitrogen oxides by lightning and coronae discharges in simulated early earth, venus and mars environments

Research areas:
Year:
2001
Authors:
  • Delphine Nna Mvondo
  • R. Navarro-González
  • C. P. McKay
  • P. Coll
  • F. Raulin
Journal:
Advances in Space Research
Volume:
27
Number:
2
Pages:
217 - 223
ISSN:
0273-1177
BibTex:
Abstract:
We present measurements for the production of nitrogen oxides (NO and N2O) in CO2-N2 mixtures that simulate different stages of the evolution of the atmospheres of the Earth, Venus and Mars. The nitrogen fixation rates by two different types of electrical discharges, namely lightning and coronae, were studied over a wide range in \{CO2\} and \{N2\} mixing ratios. Nitric oxide (NO) is formed with a maximum energy yield estimated to be ∼1.3×1016 molecule J−1 at 80% \{CO2\} and ∼1.3×1014 molecule J−1 at 50% \{CO2\} for lightning and coronae discharges, respectively. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is only formed by coronae discharge with a maximum energy yield estimated to be ∼1.2×1013 molecule J−1 at 50% CO2. The pronounced difference in \{NO\} production in lightning and coronae discharges and the lack of formation of \{N2O\} in lightning indicate that the physics and chemistry involved in nitrogen fixation differs substantially in these two forms of electric energy.