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2009 Annual Science Report

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

Task 3.3 Solubility of Organics in Methane

Project Summary

Liquid methane can serve as a solvent medium in which organic chemistry may occur in sites on the Titan surface.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Co-Investigator Robert Hodyss has designed and constructed a mass spectrometer system for the measurement of solutes in liquid methane/ethane. The system is shown in Figure 1. Briefly, a quadrupole mass spectrometer (SRS 200) in a small vacuum chamber is used to sample liquids through a capillary into the mass spectrometer. When measuring hydrocarbon solutions, the capillary is immersed in the hydrocarbon solution. Liquid drawn into the capillary rapidly vaporizes and is analyzed with the mass spectrometer. The system has been calibrated and checked for linearity with rare gas/methane gas mixtures, and experiments on liquid solutions of these will begin soon.

Figure 1. Mass spectrometer system for determining the solubility of organics and rare gases in liquid hydrocarbons. Solutions are drawn through the capillary tubing on the left, vaporized and then analyzed with the mass spectrometer (right).

    Robert Hodyss Robert Hodyss
    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