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Cation Chemistry in Titan’s Upper Atmosphere and its Influence on Tholin Formation

David Dubois 1 Nathalie Carrasco 1, 2 Lora Jovanovic 1 Ludovic Vettier 1
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : Titan is Saturn’s largest satellite. This object is unique in the solar system as it hosts a dense atmosphere mainly made of molecular nitrogen N and methane CH4, with a surface pressure of 1.5 bar. The nitrogen rich atmosphere and the presence of liquid areas on the surface make it one of the most interesting nearby objects to understand the evolution of the primitive Earth before the emergence of life and to look for habitable environments in the solar system. The Cassini-Huygens Mission has been probing Titan since 2004. It has revealed an intense atmospheric photochemistry initiated by the photo-dissociation and ionization of N2 and CH4. Photochemistry on Titan leads to the formation of solid organic aerosols responsible for a smog permanently surrounding the moon. In the upper atmosphere, Cassini detected signatures compatible with the presence of heavily charged molecules which are precursors for the solid core of the aerosols. These observations indicate that ion chemistry has an important role for organic growth. However, the processes coupling ion chemistry and aerosol production are mostly still unknown. In this study, we investigate the cation chemistry, responsible for the organic growth that we observe in Titan’s upper atmosphere, simulated using the PAMPRE plasma reactor. Positive ions are investigated by in situ ion mass spectrometry in a dusty cold plasma, alongside neutral products additionally studied through infrared absorption spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 12:03:44 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-01531203, version 1


David Dubois, Nathalie Carrasco, Lora Jovanovic, Ludovic Vettier. Cation Chemistry in Titan’s Upper Atmosphere and its Influence on Tholin Formation. European Planetary Science Congress 2017, Sep 2017, Riga, Latvia. ⟨hal-01531203⟩



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