Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Origin and evolution of the atmospheres of early Venus, Earth and Mars

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Author(s)

Helmut Lammer, Aubrey L. Zerkle, Stefanie Gebauer, Nicola Tosi, Lena Noack, Manuel Scherf, Elke Pilat-Lohinger, Manuel Güdel, John Lee Grenfell, Mareike Godolt, Athanasia Nikolaou

School/Research organisations

Abstract

We review the origin and evolution of the atmospheres of Earth, Venus and Mars from the time when their accreting bodies were released from the protoplanetary disk a few million years after the origin of the Sun. If the accreting planetary cores reached masses ≥0.5 MEarth before the gas in the disk disappeared, primordial atmospheres consisting mainly of H2 form around the young planetary body, contrary to late-stage planet formation, where terrestrial planets accrete material after the nebula phase of the disk. The differences between these two scenarios are explored by investigating non-radiogenic atmospheric noble gas isotope anomalies observed on the three terrestrial planets. The role of the young Sun’s more efficient EUV radiation and of the plasma environment into the escape of early atmospheres is also addressed. We discuss the catastrophic outgassing of volatiles and the formation and cooling of steam atmospheres after the solidification of magma oceans and we describe the geochemical evidence for additional delivery of volatile-rich chondritic materials during the main stages of terrestrial planet formation. The evolution scenario of early Earth is then compared with the atmospheric evolution of planets where no active plate tectonics emerged like on Venus and Mars. We look at the diversity between early Earth, Venus and Mars, which is found to be related to their differing geochemical, geodynamical and geophysical conditions, including plate tectonics, crust and mantle oxidation processes and their involvement in degassing processes of secondary N2 atmospheres. The buildup of atmospheric N2, O2, and the role of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4 to counter the Faint Young Sun Paradox (FYSP), when the earliest life forms on Earth originated until the Great Oxidation Event ≈ 2.3 Gyr ago, are addressed. This review concludes with a discussion on the implications of understanding Earth’s geophysical and related atmospheric evolution in relation to the discovery of potential habitable terrestrial exoplanets.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Number of pages72
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics Review
Volume26
Early online date10 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

    Research areas

  • Primordial atmospheres, Secondary atmospheres, Atmospheric evolution , Early Earth, Venus, Mars, Habitability

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Ammonium availability in the Late Archean nitrogen cycle

    Yang, J., Junium, C., Grassineau, N., Nisbet, E., Izon, G. J., Mettam, C. W., Martin, T. & Zerkle, A. L., 20 May 2019, In : Nature Geoscience. 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Multiple sulphur isotope records tracking basinal and global processes in the 1.98 Ga Zaonega Formation, NW Russia

    Paiste, K., Lepland, A., Zerkle, A. L., Kirsimäe, K., Izon, G. J., Patel, N., McLean, F., Kreitsmann, T., Mänd, K., Bui, T., Romashkin, A., Rychanchik, D. & Prave, A. R., 5 Nov 2018, In : Chemical Geology. 499, p. 151-164 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Two-billion-year-old evaporites capture Earth's great oxidation

    Blättler, C., Claire, M., Prave, A. R., Zerkle, A. L. & Warke, M. R., 22 Mar 2018, In : Science. eaar2687.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. High-frequency fluctuations in redox conditions during the latest Permian mass extinction

    Mettam, C., Zerkle, A. L., Claire, M. W., Izon, G., Junium, C. J. & Twitchett, R. J., 1 Nov 2017, In : Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 485, p. 210-223

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Atmospheres of brown dwarfs

    Helling, C. & Casewell, S., 2014, In : Astronomy and Astrophysics Review. 22, 45 p., 80.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

ID: 253036701