The ultraviolet radiation environment of Earth and Mars: past and present

Cockell, Charles S.. 2002 The ultraviolet radiation environment of Earth and Mars: past and present. In: Horneck, G.; Baumstark-Khan, C., (eds.) Astrobiology: the quest for the conditions of life. Berling, Springer, 219-232.

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Exactly 130 years passed between the discovery by Isaac Newton that white light was composed of colors [1] and the discovery of ultraviolet radiation by Johann Wilhelm Ritter, a German electro chemist, in 1801. We now understand that ultraviolet radiation, although representing <2% of the total number of photons that reach the surface of present-day Earth, has had an important role in the evolution of life on Earth. This is because it has a high energy, energy being proportional to the frequency of the radiation. UV radiation is damaging to a number of key macromolecules, particularly DNA. On early Earth, the lack of an ozone column probably resulted in higher biologically weighted irradiance than the surface of present-day Earth as there were no other UV absorbers in the atmosphere. This is also the case for present-day Mars and probably was for Mars in its early history.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Antarctic Science in the Global Context (2000-2005) > Life at the Edge - Stresses and Thresholds
ISBN: 3540421017
Date made live: 19 Mar 2012 15:50 +0 (UTC)

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