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2010 Annual Science Report

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Titan Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

Task Aerosol Photoprocessing and Analysis

Project Summary

A laboratory device is being constructed to simulate the condensation of aerosols in Titan’s atmosphere for exploring the possible effects of exposure of these aerosols to solar radiation.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Co-Investigator Mark Smith and Postdoctoral Fellow Tamara Munsch have assembled a newly designed organic fog generator. They demonstrated at 300 K its ability for generation of heavy organic condensates as primary models for haze particles of unsaturated organics in Titan’s upper atmosphere. The system incorporates a piezo driven fog source using solvent dissolved (hexanes) or pure organic liquids with a flow stream of nitrogen to determine flow velocity. The organic fog passes a slip-flow protected supersil window where UV radiation (Xe lamp) can be used to induce photochemical reaction. Initially we will study photopolymerization to understand the physicochemical behavior of surface absorbing reactions on droplets and self-extinction.

The project has just recently been picked up by graduate student, Zachary Scott, who is currently affixing a flash vaporization mass spectrometer to the post irradiation flow to characterize photochemical product yield (quantum efficiency) and photochemical kinetics via flow rate. They will begin using fogs composed of dilute solutions of acrylonitrile in inert solvents for an initial polymerization/aging study.

    Mark Smith
    Project Investigator
    Tamara Munsch

    Zachary Scott
    Graduate Student

    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