this side of the truth

by Theodore R. Frimet

you may not see

The Martian Conundrum. Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2), seasonally freezes and coalesces into frozen ice, on the Martian poles. What should follow is that all gases will similarly ice up. That is, when measured, the atmosphere will have less Oxygen (O2) and less Methane (CH4). “the amount of the gas in the air rose throughout spring and summer by as much as 30%, and then dropped back to levels predicted by known chemistry in fall. This pattern repeated each spring, though the amount of oxygen added to the atmosphere varied, implying that something was producing it and then taking it away.” (1) There is a team looking at methane’s seasonal variability and wondering if it could be tied to O2 fluctuations, as well.

How? No one knows. Not just yet. Perhaps You and I, do.

Planetary scientists are caught up with the rise and fall of CO2, due to nominal seasonal fluctuations. They are flummoxed by increases of O2 and Methane that do not seem to follow the same predictable pattern.

Without introducing biological devices as the overall causality for this non-linear event, this essay will introduce my Theory of Grignard Reactions at the Martian Surface, driving a proposed CO2-Carboxylic Acid Cycle. I additionally propose a Hypothesis of Earth’s contribution of her own Magnetic field. My thoughts are Terra’s orbital cycle and Mars Seasons co-opt the benefit of the tail end of Earths magnetic field. This seasonal adjustment of Earths residual affect guides Highly Energetic Solar Energy Particles (SEP) to the Martian surface. Both ideas may open the door to further discussion of the Martian atmospheric science conundrum.

Perhaps my use of the word, “theory” is too liberal. And clearly I have not done all of my homework, in studying Earth and Mars orbit. As it pertains to the “shadow” of Earth’s magnetic field, “my dog ate my homework”. Caution: be sure not to overuse the same reason for not turning in your homework. [see final notes at end of essay].

I was out, late last night, in the Soccer Field of Washington Crossing Park, from the hours of 6 PM until just past 10 PM. So, I am too bushed for more research, this Saturday, November 23rd morning. It was cold, outside baby! I was vetting my new purchase of an Explore Scientific (ES) 30mm 82 degree eyepiece, and the ES 99% Reflective 2″ Diagonal. I was tied at the knot to my push-to (often used in outreach), an 8” Meade LX200 GPS (Frankenstein’d), with 2″ Rear Port Adapter for Meade & Celestron SCT Telescopes. This simple, one-off adapter purchase from made my evening a great view. Comfort was established with military surplus undergarments that wicked away moisture. My new overgarment, IRON-TUFF® COVERALLS WITH HOOD, from kept its promises on its minus 50 degree protection. Don’t get me started on my Baffin Impact Men’s Insulated Snow Boot rated to minus 148 F. Yet, when I woke up this morning, I had to crawl out of bed. Thankfully, Janet made an extra pot of coffee. We call her “the barista” of Lincoln Street.

I was looking for a swank title for this essay. Just the other day I got around to flipping thru the Collected Poetry of Dylan Thomas. I became a fan of Dylan, when I learned that he authored a favorite poem of mine, “Do not go gentle into that good night”. Regretfully, having now had two Poets to compare my likes, Dylan now goes the way of Robert Frost. I say regretfully, because my palette seems to hearken unto only one poem, from each. It has become evident that I have a distinct dislike for the remainder. So sad. Is there hope, yet for me? Probably not, as the current title is blase, and non-indicative of the Astrochemical Mars tour de force that I have in mind for you, below!

Fortunately, this essay will be brief, and easy to understand. However, it will not be complete. I have yet to aggregate the knowledge by which I can commit to the production of Oxygen and Methane. Read below, and you may acknowledge what was missing from the Science reports.

Grignard Reactions. Yup. When Grignard first published his work, nobody could reproduce it in the laboratory. That is until they figured out what was wrong. Grignard didn’t have fluorescent lights in his lab. Perhaps he couldn’t afford them? I dunno. When fellow scientists eliminated this source of Ultra Violet radiation from the experiment, Grignards’ reaction was faithfully reproduced. Or at least, so the tale was told to my classmates by my Organic Chemistry (OC) teacher of 1980/1981 moeity.

Disclaimer: I took an Incomplete on that first grade by virtue of deciding not to hand in my last lab (probably would have been a “D”), and took a Withdrawal upon attempting OC, during that summertime. They called it “OC jetlag” back then. I however had a bad case of undiagnosed hyperthyroidism, which interfered greatly with my learning process.

CO2 interferes with UV reaching the Martian surface. Yes, CO2 does not ONLY affect infrared sources of energy. So it goes, that with the off-season (non-winter) INCREASE in atmospheric CO2, there is an increased rate of reaction for Grignard reactants, (absent the interference of UV) resulting in higher concentrations of Carboxylic Acids.

Here, let’s summarize what we have so far. I’m not an organic chemist, and yet I am telling you that CO2 blocks UV. Grignard reactions result. An increase in CO2 yields Grignard reactions, and more Carboxylic Acids. With me? Good. Because a little faith is required in the below chemical statement:

RCO2H + NaHCO3 ==> [RCO2(-)Na+] + CO2 + H2O

Oops, did we just create water on Mars?
Wait a minute, you promised Oxygen and Methane!
Ok. ok. k.

In the absence of atmospheric gases, since they coalesced frozen at the poles, creates a thinning of the protective Martian blanket. My hypothesis is that Highly Energetic Solar Energy Particles (SEP) could penetrate to Mars surface. The Martian Winter Solstice and Earths Autumnal Equinox occurs when our orbits are closest together (1). That allows Earths magnetic field to outsource to Mars, aligning SEP hits to the Martian surface. This added energy, not including cosmic rays, can bounce CO2 around, releasing additional Oxygen:

CO2 ==> CO + O
Oops, did we just release a highly reactive Oxygen atom? Why yes, we did!
Now, I am not a chemist. Yet it doesn’t take much in the way of imagination to reorganize CH3COOH into:

CH4, CO2, or H2O

Let’s try and see if we can work out a formula?

CH3COOH ==> CH4 + CO2

There be Methane!

Where is the diatomic Oxygen?
CO2 ==> CO + O
O + O ==> O2

Ok, the above is a stretch of my imagination. However I have been working hard on the Grignard theory in the absence of seasonal atmospheric CO2. So this side of the truth, you may not get to see, or hear of from any other Amateur Astronomers on this topic. The chaos of combining seasonal Earths Magnetic shielding affect on Mars, which directs SEP hits, and the decrease in atmospheric CO2, which down-regulates the Grignard reaction, is too much to hoof about.

Wait, are we blind, here? If there is a decrease in CO2 in the atmosphere, there should be a decrease in the Grignard reactions! Um, Yes. Or rather, Alice, try the cake that reads, “eat me”. That is essentially correct. Fewer Carboxylic Acids are produced, and with less atmospheric CO2, the drive to produce more reactants occurs, as stated, again, below:

CH3COOH ==> CH4 + CO2

There be Methane! We were already presumptive on where the O2 came from, weren’t we, Old Sport? As for the “30 percent increase”, the rate of reaction is not tied to the rate of CO2 capture at the poles. This is because a new Calculus is required to accommodate seasonal CO2 flux, our SEP factor, the seasonal interaction of our magnetic fields, and Sun activity. Don’t even get me started on Cosmic Rays. Yawn. I need another poet.

Failure is abundant
To grasp the rewards
of failure is
To grasp the rewards
of success

That’ll do.


copyright Martin J. Powel.

The Conundrum:

This laboratory study simulated the abiotic formation of carboxylic acids (RCOOH) in interstellar analogous ices of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) at 10 K upon exposure to energetic electrons.

Despite the importance of carboxylic acids in extraterrestrial environments, their detailed formation routes have not yet been resolved.

My notes:

Since Martian atmospheric CO2 is seasonally condensed, to a solid, at the poles, it follows that the rate of reaction, increases, forming up more product (CO2).

Methane (CH4) is released, while Carboxylic Acid is produced. Both are reasonable due to radiation exposure, in the laboratory, to disassociate a free O from CO2.
CO2 ==> O + CO
“Max CO2 pressure during Northern Fall shortly after perihelion”

and finally:

10 Best Excuses for Not Doing Your Homework, August 2, 2012 – by Ananya Rao-Middleton:

This entry was posted in December 2019, Sidereal Times and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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