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Atmosphere 2015, 6(3), 299-317; doi:10.3390/atmos6030299

The Possible Role of Penning Ionization Processes in Planetary Atmospheres

1
Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Perugia, Via G. Duranti 93, Perugia 06125, Italy
3
Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnologies, University of Perugia, Via Elce di Sotto 8, Perugia 06123, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Armin Sorooshian
Received: 9 January 2015 / Revised: 26 February 2015 / Accepted: 27 February 2015 / Published: 11 March 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Composition Observations)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1247 KB, uploaded 11 March 2015]   |  

Abstract

In this paper we suggest Penning ionization as an important route of formation for ionic species in upper planetary atmospheres. Our goal is to provide relevant tools to researchers working on kinetic models of atmospheric interest, in order to include Penning ionizations in their calculations as fast processes promoting reactions that cannot be neglected. Ions are extremely important for the transmission of radio and satellite signals, and they govern the chemistry of planetary ionospheres. Molecular ions have also been detected in comet tails. In this paper recent experimental results concerning production of simple ionic species of atmospheric interest are presented and discussed. Such results concern the formation of free ions in collisional ionization of H2O, H2S, and NH3 induced by highly excited species (Penning ionization) as metastable noble gas atoms. The effect of Penning ionization still has not been considered in the modeling of terrestrial and extraterrestrial objects so far, even, though metastable helium is formed by radiative recombination of He+ ions with electrons. Because helium is the second most abundant element of the universe, Penning ionization of atomic or molecular species by He*(23S1) is plausibly an active route of ionization in relatively dense environments exposed to cosmic rays. View Full-Text
Keywords: Penning ionization; hydrogenated molecules; metastable rare gas atoms; planetary atmospheres; mass spectrometry; electron spectroscopy; crossed molecular beams Penning ionization; hydrogenated molecules; metastable rare gas atoms; planetary atmospheres; mass spectrometry; electron spectroscopy; crossed molecular beams
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Falcinelli, S.; Pirani, F.; Vecchiocattivi, F. The Possible Role of Penning Ionization Processes in Planetary Atmospheres. Atmosphere 2015, 6, 299-317.

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