Journal article Open Access
Zahnle, Kevin J.
This paper considers impact erosion as the agent of the early Martian atmophere escape, by examining xenon-related constraints imposed on the impact erosion. It is found that, if impact erosion of a planetary atmosphere is important, the remnant atmosphere is likely to fall into one of two qualitatively distinct categories: (1) cometary xenon has an unexpected isotopic composition or (2) factors other than impacts, such as outgassing or recycling, are needed. Neither of these categories can readily account for the present Martian atmosphere.