Astronomy and Astrophysics (2019)

T. Encrenaz, T. K. Greathouse, S. Aoki, F. Daerden, M. Giuranna, F. Forget, F. Lefèvre, F. Montmessin, T. Fouchet, B. Bézard, S. K. Atreya, C. DeWitt, M. J. Richter, L. Neary and S. Viscardy

We pursued our ground-based seasonal monitoring of hydrogen peroxide on Mars using thermal imaging spectroscopy, with two observations of the planet near opposition, in May 2016 (solar longitude Ls = 148.5°, diameter = 17 arcsec) and July 2018 (Ls = 209°, diameter = 23 arcsec). Data were recorded in the 1232–1242 cm−1 range (8.1 μm) with the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES) mounted at the 3 m Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) at the Mauna Kea Observatories. As in the case of our previous analyses, maps of H2O2 were obtained using line depth ratios of weak transitions of H2O2 divided by a weak CO2 line. The H2O2 map of April 2016 shows a strong dichotomy between the northern and southern hemispheres, with a mean volume mixing ratio of 45 ppbv on the north side and less than 10 ppbv on the south side; this dichotomy was expected by the photochemical models developed in the LMD Mars Global Climate Model (LMD-MGCM) and with the recently developed Global Environmental Multiscale Mars (GEM-Mars) model. The second measurement (July 2018) was taken in the middle of the MY 34 global dust storm. H2O2 was not detected with a disk-integrated 2σ upper limit of 10 ppbv, while both the LMD-MGCM and the GEM-Mars models predicted a value above 20 ppbv (also observed by TEXES in 2003) in the absence of dust storm. This depletion is probably the result of the high dust content in the atmosphere at the time of our observations, which led to a decrease in the water vapor column density, as observed by the PFS during the global dust storm. GCM simulations using the GEM model show that the H2O depletion leads to a drop in H2O2, due to the lack of HO2 radicals. Our result brings a new constraint on the photochemistry of H2O2 in the presence of a high dust content. In parallel, we reprocessed the whole TEXES dataset of H2O2 measurements using the latest version of the GEISA database (GEISA 2015). We recently found that there is a significant difference in the H2O2 line strengths between the 2003 and 2015 versions of GEISA. Therefore, all H2O2 volume mixing ratios up to 2014 from TEXES measurements must be reduced by a factor of 1.75. As a consequence, in four cases (Ls around 80°, 100°, 150°, and 209°) the abundances show contradictory values between different Martian years. At Ls = 209° the cause seems to be the increased dust content associated with the global dust storm. The inter-annual variability in the three other cases remains unexplained at this time.