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
The formation of prebiotic chemical compounds on the Titan surface may be catalyzed by the presence of mineral grains.
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.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Thomas Orlando
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 1.1
Formation and evolution of habitable planets.
Outer Solar System exploration
Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts
Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules
Origins of energy transduction