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2009 Annual Science Report

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Titan Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

Task 3.1 Reactions of Organics With Ices and Mineral Grains

Project Summary

The formation of prebiotic chemical compounds on the Titan surface may be catalyzed by the presence of mineral grains.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Co-Investigator Thom Orlando and his group have begun studying possible catalytic activity of micrometeorite particles presumably present on the Titan surface. These studies involve particle production using a newly constructed Nd:YAG laser ablation particle source. Our initial work used olivine as the target followed by particle growth in the plume and collection on a silicon wafer. The particles have been analyzed by scanning electron microscopy and scanning Raman microscopy. The former yields geometric information whereas the latter yields information with regard to chemical identity of adsorbed molecules. The adsorbates will be multilayers of polyacetylenes and polynitriles mixed with water. Collectively, these studies will allow is to follow thermal and nonthermal (i.e. photochemical) reactions on particle grains in a spatially and temperature controlled manner.

    Thomas Orlando
    Project Investigator
    Objective 1.1
    Formation and evolution of habitable planets.

    Objective 2.2
    Outer Solar System exploration

    Objective 3.1
    Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts

    Objective 3.2
    Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules

    Objective 3.3
    Origins of energy transduction