• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9

The Evolution and Current Composition of the Atmospheres of Earth and Mars

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

       The Evolution and Current Composition of the Atmospheres of

                Earth and Mars

The essay begins by looking at the birth of our solar system and formation of Mars and Earth. The origins of the atmospheres of the two planets are considered and attention then turns to the early atmospheres themselves. Regarding Mars, predominance is given to the mechanisms responsible for the removal of the planets atmosphere. This is mainly because its early removal precluded further evolution. Consideration is then given to the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere from the Hadean, through the Archean and Proterozoic. Due emphasis is placed on the appearance of life in the Archean and its effect on atmospheric chemistry. The essay ends by looking at the two planets present day atmospheres.

Mars is a terrestrial or ‘Earthlike’ planet composed of rocks and metals and was formed in much the same way as the Earth, by the accretion of planetesimals by gravitational attraction during the birth of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Two processes could have formed the early atmospheres of Earth and Mars. During the “Heavy Bombardment” period Earth and Mars were frequently struck by large amounts of residual material which had escaped earlier accretion.

...read more.

Middle

There is no compelling reason to suspect that Mars’s atmosphere was any different to Earth in terms of reduction properties and also offers another plausible explanation for the disappearance of water from the surface of Mars. By the same processes that occurred on Earth, the hydrogen and oxygen fractions of water would have been split, the hydrogen being lost to space and the oxygen locked up in the surface rocks. The heavily oxidised surface rocks give Mars its characteristic red colour. Another possibility is that due to Mars’s small size and weaker internal heat engine than Earth’s, there was no system of plate tectonics cooling the mantle relative to the core creating convection currents to keep its dynamo turning. The solar wind is powerful enough to strip away atmospheres. It is prevented from doing so on Earth by the magnetic field, which deflects the solar wind around and behind the planet. Scientists havepredicted that the solar wind stripped away Mars’s atmosphere during the planets first two billion years.

Archean photosynthetic organisms on Earth started removing atmospheric CO² and producing oxygen, but oxygen levels did not build up for a considerable time (Fig 2).

...read more.

Conclusion

GRIBBIN, J., 1995. Structure of the Earth’s atmosphere. New Scientist, 148, 1-4.

Héctor, J.D.M., (2001). The Evolution of Mars Atmosphere in Post-Noachian Epochs (online). Depto. de Física Espacial, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM. Available from:

http://ariel.igeofcu.unam.mx/~hdurand/bolinvcien/volumen1/atmosmarte1.html (Accessed 20 Feb 2002).

JAKOSKY, B.M. AND PHILLIPS, R.J., 2001. Mars’ volatile and climate history. Nature, 412, 237-244.

LOVELOCK, J., 1991. Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine. London: Gaia Books.

LOVELOCK, J., 1995. The Ages of Gaia. 2ndedition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mars Acadamy (2001). Atmosphere (online). Available from: http://www.marsacademy.com/geolo5.htm#Atmosphere

(Accessed 20 Feb 2002).

MORTON, O., 1999. Mystery of the missing atmosphere.  New Scientist, 164, 34-38.

PRESS, F. AND SIEVER, R., 2001. Understanding Earth. 3rdedition. New York: Freeman.

SAMUEL, E., 2001. The day the dynamo died – With no magnetic field, Mars lost its atmosphere and chance of life. New Scientist, 169, 4.

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, (2001). Solar Wind (online). Available from: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/glossary/solar_wind.html

(Accessed 20 Feb 2002).

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, (2001). Volcanic Gasses and the Origin of the Atmosphere (online). Available from: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Gases/origin.html

(Accessed 20 Feb 2002).

University of Michigan (1996). Evolution of the Atmosphere: Structure and Composition (online). Available from: http://www.sprl.umich.edu/GCL/paper_to_html/evolut_clim.html

(Accessed 20 Feb 2002).

0118401

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Earth and Beyond section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Earth and Beyond essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    My project this year is based on the solar system. In my project I ...

    4 star(s)

    Neptune has a blue atmosphere of clouds and gases like hydrogen and helium. It has a rocky core about as large as the Earth. Neptune has three rings and 8 moons. Six of these moons were discoveres by Voyager 2 which flew past Neptune in 1989.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Global Warming - Is it man Made?

    Doubling the price of gasoline over the last few years has caused food costs to shoot up; fishermen and truckers to be put out of business; and many low income people to suffer. Now, Congress is debating to do the same thing to electricity prices.

  1. Mars - The red planet

    MARINERS 8 AND 9: In 1971, Mariners 8 and 9 were launched. But not everything went right. These two spacecraft were designed as orbital spacecraft that would travel to Mars and orbit the planet, taking thousands of photographs and examining the atmosphere, temperature and surface.

  2. When one begins to study satellites he or she is bound to find out ...

    Polar orbits have certain advantages. In time, because the earth is rotating beneath it, the satellite will pass over its entire surface. In addition, as in an equatorial orbit, the movement of direction from east to west or vice versa.

  1. helium essay

    This unknown element was named helium by Lockyer. The hunt to find helium on earth ended in 1895. Sir William Ramsay, a Scottish chemist, conducted an experiment with a mineral containing uranium called clevite. He exposed the clevite to mineral acids and collected the gases that were produced.

  2. "Earth's climate has always been changing; it is the rate of change that is ...

    Mathematically, the increase is around 30.4% and looking at the numbers this way, we can understand how therefore in reality it does affect earth more than we would expect it to. Since CO2 absorbs heat, more CO2 being released into the atmosphere means that the earth's temperature should go up with corresponding increases in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

  1. AS Chemistry: Chemistry of the Stratosphere

    Years after these discoveries, a group of scientists flew to the ozone hole and measured concentrations of ClO radicals and ozone. They found that the correlation of ozone fell considerably as that of ClO radicals rose therefore proving that Cl radicals must be involved in ozone depletion (figure 2).

  2. Explain the problems associated with landing people on Mars including (a) large distances, (b) ...

    Not only are the temperatures on Mars able to reach record lows, but the seasons would also last twice as long, as one Mars year is 687 Earth days, meaning that for every Mars year Earth would have only have rotated around the Sun once.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work