Radiation Products in Processed Ices Relevant to Edgeworth-Kuiper-Belt Objects
- Cite this article as:
- Moore, M.H., Hudson, R.L. & Ferrante, R.F. Earth, Moon, and Planets (2003) 92: 291. doi:10.1023/B:MOON.0000031946.53696.f6
Near the inner edge of the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt (EKB) are Pluto and Charon, which are known to have N2- and H2O-dominated surface ices, respectively. Such non-polar and polar ices, and perhaps mixtures of them, also may be present on other trans-Neptunian objects. Pluto, Charon, and all EKB objects reside in a weak, but constant UV-photon and energetic ion radiation environment that drives chemical reactions in their surface ices. Effects of photon and ion processing include changes in ice composition, volatility, spectra, and albedo, and these have been studied in a number of laboratories. This paper focuses on ice processing by ion irradiation and is aimed at understanding the volatiles, ions, and residues that may exist on outer solar system objects. We summarize radiation chemical products of N2-rich and H2O-rich ices containing CO or CH4, including possible volatiles such as alcohols, acids, and bases. Less-volatile products that could accumulate on EKB objects are observed to form in the laboratory from acid-base reactions, reactions promoted by warming, or reactions due to radiation processing of a relatively pure ice (e.g., CO → C3O2). New IR spectra are reported for the 1–5 mu;m region, along with band strengths for the stronger features of carbon suboxide, carbonic acid, the ammonium and cyanate ions, polyoxymethylene, and ethylene glycol. These six materials are possible contributors to EKB surfaces, and will be of interest to observers and future missions.