Water vapor diffusion in Mars subsurface environments
Article first published online: 31 MAY 2007
Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (1991–2012)
Volume 112, Issue E5, May 2007
How to Cite
2007), Water vapor diffusion in Mars subsurface environments, J. Geophys. Res., 112, E05016, doi:10.1029/2006JE002815., , , , , and (
- Issue published online: 31 MAY 2007
- Article first published online: 31 MAY 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 1 FEB 2007
- Manuscript Revised: 29 NOV 2006
- Manuscript Received: 18 AUG 2006
 The diffusion coefficient of water vapor in unconsolidated porous media is measured for various soil simulants at Mars-like pressures and subzero temperatures. An experimental chamber which simultaneously reproduces a low-pressure, low-temperature, and low-humidity environment is used to monitor water flux from an ice source through a porous diffusion barrier. Experiments are performed on four types of simulants: 40–70 μm glass beads, sintered glass filter disks, 1–3 μm dust (both loose and packed), and JSC Mars–1. A theoretical framework is presented that applies to environments that are not necessarily isothermal or isobaric. For most of our samples, we find diffusion coefficients in the range of 2.8 to 5.4 cm2 s−1 at 600 Pascal and 260 K. This range becomes 1.9–4.7 cm2 s−1 when extrapolated to a Mars-like temperature of 200 K. Our preferred value for JSC Mars–1 at 600 Pa and 200 K is 3.7 ± 0.5 cm2 s−1. The tortuosities of the glass beads is about 1.8. Packed dust displays a lower mean diffusion coefficient of 0.38 ± 0.26 cm2 s−1, which can be attributed to transition to the Knudsen regime where molecular collisions with the pore walls dominate. Values for the diffusion coefficient and the variation of the diffusion coefficient with pressure are well matched by existing models. The survival of shallow subsurface ice on Mars and the providence of diffusion barriers are considered in light of these measurements.