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#1 2019-01-10 17:55:28

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,528

Nitrous Oxide

I will take no offence if the moderators move this.

I have had my eye on Nitrous Oxide previously.  However, today I read an article that said leaf cutter ants produce more of it than our sewage treatment plants.  Apparently it is a greenhouse gas.  I didn't know.  So, I then have a greater interest.

The first thing I took note of on Nitrous Oxide is that very cold hypersaline lakes apparently generate it.  In the case of Don Juan Pond, they think it occurs abiotically by a reaction of brine to soil, perhaps iron in soil. … sOxide.pdf

Don Juan Pond apparently has no life in it.  Lake Bonnie does and I believe that it does also generate Nitrous Oxide.

So, I am going to speculate that for Mars, as the atmosphere collapsed or was removed by the solar wind, there would have been a time when hypersaline lakes and seas would be the only liquid water present.  Perhaps some where open like Don Juan Pond, perhaps some covered in ice for the most part.  As in the dry valleys of Antarctica now, it is possible to have small streams of melt water for a couple of weeks during the height of summer, under continuous sunlight.  This would bring Martian atmospheric gasses into these hypersaline lakes.
Then I presume that the process of corrosion of Iron and perhaps other metals in the soil would produce Nitrous Oxide.

And as it happens you can produce Clathrates of Nitrous Oxide and CO2. … ode=jceaax

And then there is a new opinion which disputes that the solar wind took away much of the Martian atmosphere. … -wind-432/
I happen to be 1/2 Swede, so I guess I think I am going to give one ear to this opinion, and keep the other open to other opinions.

“Despite stronger solar wind and EUV-radiation levels under the early Sun, ion escape can not explain more than 0.006 bar of atmospheric pressure lost over the course of 3.9 billion years,” said Ramstad in a statement. “Even our upper estimate, 0.01 bar, is an insignificant amount in comparison to the atmosphere required to maintain a sufficiently strong greenhouse effect, about 1 bar or more according to climate models.”

In other words this opinion indicates that something else other than atmospheric loss to space would have provided a sink for the atmosphere to disappear into.

By now you should know where I am going. … ouse-gases
I recall that it is thought that the early atmosphere of Earth may have been a lot like that of Titan.

So why not Mars?

Nitrogen, Methane, and because Earth and Mars are warm enough CO2.

Emissions from Volcanos and Mud Volcanos.
Volcanos … r/gas.html
Mud Volcanos

I know that there are fossil mud volcanos on Mars, and likely buried under the sediments of the northern plains would be more.

So, the point would be eventually Mars did not get enough of the Methane and perhaps some other items, and also the crust cooled off, and a tipping point was reached, where clathrates of various gasses could build up perhaps under very cold hypersaline bodies of water.


Anyway, I am opting for the notion that somehow most of the atmosphere went underground as an alternative to the notion that it floated off into space.

I think the northern plains and some other basins are filled with water and wind borne sediments that have been accumulating for billions of years, obscuring what was there after 500 million years.


But I also for this post am extremely interested in Nitrous Oxide as a greenhouse gas. … ouse-gases

Methane Emissions
Properties of Methane
Chemical Formula: CH4
Lifetime in Atmosphere: 12 years
Global Warming Potential (100-year): 251
In 2016, methane (CH4) accounted for about 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Human activities emitting methane include leaks from natural gas systems and the raising of livestock. Methane is also emitted by natural sources such as natural wetlands. In addition, natural processes in soil and chemical reactions in the atmosphere help remove CH4 from the atmosphere. Methane's lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but CH4 is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.


Nitrous Oxide Emissions
Properties of Nitrous Oxide
Chemical Formula: N2O
Lifetime in Atmosphere: 114 years
Global Warming Potential (100-year): 2981
In 2016, nitrous oxide (N2O) accounted for about 6 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Human activities such as agriculture, fuel combustion, wastewater management, and industrial processes are increasing the amount of N2O in the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is also naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth's nitrogen cycle, and has a variety of natural sources. Nitrous oxide molecules stay in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years before being removed by a sink or destroyed through chemical reactions. The impact of 1 pound of N2O on warming the atmosphere is almost 300 times that of 1 pound of carbon dioxide.

Emissions of Fluorinated Gases are also discussed in the article, but I am most interested in Nitrous Oxide.

It does cause damage to Ozone.  Also it might condense on the polar ice caps, so that could be a problem.

But being 300 times more powerful than CO2, and apparently 12 times as powerful as Methane, I think it needs a look.

An Ozone layer probably won't do that much good anyway until the atmosphere is better inflated.  After all it's uses are to protect life forms and perhaps plastic from U.V.

And while there is not a significant ozone layer, the U.V. is a solar energy source in addition to the other wavelengths.

I am thinking that a small pinch of Nitrous Oxide would work well with Methane and some other gasses.  I believe each gas blocks different wavelengths from leaving the atmosphere.

That's about it.  Just something to mull over.

And then here is something else. … 5X13004145
That's near the equator of course. … an_equator

Do I buy into it?  Not yet.  But.... … uator.html

So, the atmosphere either drifted into space on the solar wind, or went underground, or both smile

And there seems to be a signature of water near the equator, and some articles that suggest that there may be massive deposits of fossil ice in the Valles Marineris.

So, punt then.  Have an open mind I think.  Some people are far too certain I think.

I think quite a lot went underground myself.


Last edited by Void (2019-01-10 18:52:56)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


#2 2019-01-10 19:30:39

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,694

Re: Nitrous Oxide

Its in as good a place as any Void as we know that being more like earth will be something that we will need to get to in time.
I saw some recent food commecials that indicated that the content of the No is also important to man's health...
It sure seems that our biology is more closely contented to earths atmosphere than we could have imagined.

Sorry not feeling well with the flu so quick hit and off to bed I go...


#3 2019-01-11 04:05:56

From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,304

Re: Nitrous Oxide

In order to get analgesic effects, wiki says you need to be inhaling quite a lot - hospitals use a 2:1 mix of N20 with O2. So it doesn't look like 1mb partial pressure will cause any problems, whilst providing the same warming potential as 300mb of CO2 (note: the effectiveness declines as concentration increases). Perhaps, then, engineered bogs would be able to keep a cool, low-pressure Mars warm enough for liquid surface water in some areas. Though I am more  concerned with keeping soil moist, so that trees can access water.

"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney


#4 2019-01-11 09:48:43

Registered: 2014-07-07
Posts: 236

Re: Nitrous Oxide

Shall we assume that Martian soil has satisfactory amount of nitrogen compounds?


#5 2019-01-11 11:20:46

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,528

Re: Nitrous Oxide

Spacenut, hope you get better soon.

I would not assume really, but I am inclined to have a hunch to look for sequestered compounds of Nitrogen.  If found then a scheme to release it may be helpful, especially if you can generate power while doing it.

I think that at first a great hope would be that there are salt domes and natural gas deposits.  Abiotic or biotic.  I have to confess however I am not aware of salt domes in the basins, such as Hellas, or the Northern Hemisphere.

But there seems to be one we can see on Mars.
I am willing to be conservative and say ok that "Oil Spill" is just dirty brine.  Fine.  We shall see.

So, a question I have to ask is where is the salt we could presume existed in the Northern Ocean and the smaller seas?  Hellas for instance.
Could we speculate that it behaves much like on Earth?

I am pretty sure that on Earth, salty bodies of water dry up, and salt comes out of the solution to become a sediment on the body of the briny body of water.  Then soil type sediments are deposited over it.

So, then in some cases, this forms salt domes over time that can collect natural gas and Oil (On Earth, oil, maybe not so on Mars).

Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.[2] It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas.[3]

We don't know if large deposits are present, but we do think that some Methane does emerge in the summer.  Even though possibly the entire planet has icy permafrost far down.

So, before going to the effort to manufacture Methane for terraforming we should be looking for salt domes, and trying to find out if we could rupture them and vent large amounts of a natural gas mixture to the Martian atmosphere.  Things like Helium may be obtainable doing this as well.  And if some how we could extract the meager amount of O2 and CO from the atmosphere, we would have a ready source of chemicals to manufacture things and to perform chemosynthesis.

And salt deposits may provide other things.  Underground habitat, and space for factories.  Salt, for instance if you want to create a solar salt pond for storing energy thermally and by salinity variances.

So, salt is a massive biggie in my opinion.

So, back to Nitrous Oxide.  It is my notion, that every trick practical should be used to change Mars to what is possible and what we might desire.

Nitrous Oxide by itself may tend to condense out at the poles, if you put too much of it into the atmospheric solution.

But if you can find a way to really saturate the atmosphere with Methane, and other gasses, and if you use other methods such as;
-Albedo Modification.  My version is go ahead and gradually encroach upon the polar condensation points with Heliostats, and solar power towers.  This in effect intercepts the photons before they hit the surface deposits and reflect and radiate off into space.  Then the thermal and salinity results can be stored under ice.  Where you would not do that then you would perhaps put Carbon black on the ice.

-Water Vapor.  Here is a case where you could generate power while venting steam to a vortex you create in the atmosphere.  Somewhere along the line, you may hope to raise the relative humidity, and have the U.V. shred some of it, adding Oxygen to the atmosphere.  And down the line, if you are calculating the wind patterns, you might even cause snow pack to begin being created at low latitudes and higher elevations.

-Magnetic Field.  Having Phobos and Demos, why not indeed put a magnetic shield around Mars, to reduce loss of atmosphere, and to provide radiation protection for orbital habitats.

-Mirrors in orbit.  Such may be used both to deliver extra solar power to selected points on Mars, and perhaps to assist in terraforming.

-Greenhouse gasses.  Include some Nitrous Oxide.  Hope to vent massive amounts of natural gas from salt domes.

It is conceivable that a microbe could be engineered which would generate Nitrous Oxide in an ice covered chemosynthetic driven environment humans would produce for it.


Last edited by Void (2019-01-11 11:49:54)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


#6 2019-01-13 09:01:53

Registered: 2014-07-07
Posts: 236

Re: Nitrous Oxide

Void wrote:

Magnetic Field.  Having Phobos and Demos, why not indeed put a magnetic shield around Mars, to reduce loss of atmosphere, and to provide radiation protection for orbital habitats.

Hope SpaceNut get well soon. My question to readers is the following. Can a magnetic field be generated from polar region to polar if solar radiation penetrates a gaseous layer of dipole molecules spinned by dust storm on Mars?


#7 2019-01-13 11:23:12

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,694

Re: Nitrous Oxide

Thanks all, still not sleeping well with the coughing but will get there with time as its a virus....

You are looking to create an arc though plasma cords to create a megosphere.


electrically-charged dust storm on Mars. The "+" and "-" symbols represent positive and negative electric charges, respectively

It is thought that the dusts storms are creating perchlorate ion—made of one chlorine atom and four oxygen atoms—is stable, but chlorate, a related chemical with only three oxygen atoms, is a strong oxidizer … rates.html

Charge levels are in this document Dust charging and electrical conductivity in the day and nighttime atmosphere of Mars

Dust particle charge in plasma with ion flow and electron depletion

hydrogen diluted silane SiH4 Silane plasmas
Charge neutralization of dust particles in a plasma with negative ions


#8 2019-01-14 12:29:06

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,528

Re: Nitrous Oxide

Knightdepaix,  Sorry that is beyond me.  I am sure magnetism is present in a dust storm along with electric effects.

Spacenut,  your post has reset my thinking about the dust of Mars.  I had previously thought of it as a pest, that would cause more and more trouble as the atmosphere got more dense.  However I am now thinking that it's process where it brings water vapor up to be shredded by U.V. could be used as a terraforming tool.  The cost will be solar energy.  So then what will be needed is methods to deal with solar outages.
Frankly I think that large bodies of water covered with ice will give good energy storage, and help in material support of humans in other ways as well, when dust storms interfere with solar power.  Other methods of compensation could be surface Heliostats, but I am also pondering orbital mirrors to stimulate dust storms.

A characteristic of global dust storms is to raise the temperatures somewhat.

I am not absolutely sure what to use that for.  Maybe with orbital mirrors for instance it might be possible to locally dump dust onto the South Polar cap during the southern summer.  Maybe that might along with greenhouse gasses help to vaporize solid CO2 in that ice cap.

Hard to say if it could be done.  Maybe as the atmosphere gets thicker, and warms up with greenhouse gasses it might be easier to trigger a dust storm with orbital mirrors.  The northern hemisphere being lower in general, perhaps human settlement there, and so when north fall comes try to stir up a global dust storm, and dirty up the southern ice cap.

Maybe.  And again, I have to suppose that a global dust storm does inject oxygen into the Martian atmosphere, as it moves moisture upward to where it can be shredded by U.V.  The Hydrogen shredded off, is then expected to float off into space.


Last edited by Void (2019-01-14 12:43:56)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


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