Possible chemical impact of planetary lightning in the atmospheres of Venus and Mars [2]


Journal Article (Letter)

THE importance of lightning as a source of trace gases in the Earth's atmosphere has long been recognised. In 1827, von Liebig proposed lightning as a source of atmospheric fixed nitrogen1 and recent investigations have supported this hypothesis2-7. In the Earth's pre-biological atmosphere lightning may have produced organic molecules, such as HCN, which led to the evolution of life8. After life evolved, but before photosynthesis and biological nitrogen fixation developed, lightning may have provided an abiotic source of organic C and fixed N to the growing biota 9,10. The presence of cloud layers on Venus11 and synoptic scale dust storms on Mars12 suggest that lightning may also occur on these planets, and indeed there have been reports of lightning being detected on Venus by American and Soviet spacecraft. The implications for atmospheric chemistry of lightning on Venus and Mars are discussed here. © 1979 Nature Publishing Group.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chameides, WL; Walker, JCG; Nagy, AF

Published Date

  • December 1, 1979

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 280 / 5725

Start / End Page

  • 820 - 822

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0028-0836

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/280820a0

Citation Source

  • Scopus