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This chapter provides an overview of available noble gas data for solar system bodies apart from the Earth, Mars, and asteroids. Besides the Sun, the Moon, and the giant planets, we will also discuss data for the tenuous atmospheres of Mercury and the Moon, comets, interplanetary dust particles and elementary particles in the interplanetary medium and beyond. In addition, we summarize the scarce data base for the Venusian atmosphere. The extensive meteorite data from Mars and asteroidal sources are discussed in chapters in this volume by Ott (2002), Swindle (2002a,b) and Wieler (2002). Data from the Venusian and Martian atmospheres are discussed in more detail in chapters by Pepin and Porcelli (2002) and Swindle (2002b). Where appropriate, we will also present some data for other highly volatile elements such as H or N.
The solar system formed from a molecular cloud fragment—traditionally called the solar nebula—that was rather well mixed. Therefore, isotopic abundances in almost all available solar system materials are very similar to each other, and elemental abundances in primitive meteorites are also similar to the values in the Sun. The major exceptions to this rule are the noble gases. Because they are chemically inert and volatile, they are very strongly depleted in solid matter. As a consequence, numerous noble gas “components” can be recognized throughout the solar system which are not necessarily related to the composition of the bulk nebula. Still, one major question in cosmochemistry is to what extent planetary bodies contain reservoirs that reflect the noble gas composition in the nebula or the presolar cloud.
To discuss this, we first need a proxy for the nebula composition. The obvious choice is the bulk Sun, except for He, which has been produced in the Sun throughout its history. We will discuss the …