Abstract by Jesse Richmond
Physics and Astronomy
Hydrogen Peroxide Formation through UV Interactions on Mars
The Labeled Release experiment of the Viking landers led to the hypothesis that martian soil is highly oxidized. Hydrogen peroxide has been suggested as the primary oxidant, but no definitive theory exists as to how it forms in the martian environment. We propose that ultraviolet radiation interacts with carbon dioxide, water, and other trace substances in the martian atmosphere to form this hydrogen peroxide. We tested this theory by constucting a Mars-like atmosphere within a vacuum system and then exposing it to ultraviolet radiation from a UV lamp. The resulting products were then collected into a cold trap and analyzed by a mass spectrometer. Initial results do seem to indicate that hydrogen peroxide was generated by the interaction, as well as other substances. If correct, this data further expands our knowledge of the martian environment and explains why no martian organics have been discovered thus far.