Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Lunar soil and certain meteorites contain noble gases trapped from the solar wind at various times in the past. The progress in the last decade to decipher these precious archives of solar history is reviewed. The samples appear to contain two solar noble gas components with different isotopic composition. The solar wind component resides very close to grain surfaces and its isotopic composition is identical to that of present-day solar wind. Experimental evidence seems by now overwhelming that somewhat deeper inside the grains there exists a second, isotopically heavier component. To explain the origin of this component remains a challenge, because it is much too abundant to be readily reconciled with the known present day flux of solar particles with energies above those of the solar wind. The isotopic composition of solar wind noble gases may have changed slightly over the past few Ga, but such a change is not firmly established. The upper limit of ~5% per Ga for a secular increase of the 3He/4He ratio sets stringent limits on the amount of He that may have been brought from the solar interior to the surface (cf. Bochsler, 1992). Relative abundances of He, Ne, and Ar in present-day solar wind are the same as the long term average recorded in metallic Fe grains in meteorites within error limits of some 15-20%. Xe, and to a lesser extent Kr, are enriched in the solar wind similar to elements with a first ionisation potential 〈 10 eV, although Kr and Xe have higher FIPs. This can be explained if the ionisation time governs the FIP effect (Geiss and Bochsler, 1986).
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