WHENApril 20, 2021 5 PMWHEREZoomWHOCenter for Space ScienceOpen to the Public
Titan, Saturn’s icy moon, is an ideal planetary body to study prebiotic chemistry, origins of life, and the potential habitability of an extraterrestrial environment. It features a nitrogen-based atmosphere, complex organic chemistry fueled by radiation from the sun and Saturn’s magnetosphere, ethane-based lakes on top of water-ice surface on the poles, organic dunes on the equator, and seasonal evaporation and precipitation of hydrocarbons in a process notably similar to Earth’s hydrological cycle. As part of NASA’s New Frontiers Mission, a rotorcraft named Dragonfly will be launched in 2027 and is expected to arrive on the surface of Titan in 2034. In light of the imminent Dragonfly mission, revisiting the fundamental chemistry of the smallest organic molecules that make up the surface of Titan is of utmost importance. Here, we present our findings derived from experimental modeling of the composition and structure of the Titanean haze and surface mineral deposits, with the accent on the simplest nitriles.
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