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2013 Annual Science Report

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Titan Reporting  |  SEP 2012 – AUG 2013

Task 1.1.1: Leaching of Radiogenic Potassium From Titan’s Core Into Its Ocean

Project Summary

Working with graduate student Jason Hofgartner and NAI collaborator Christophe Sotin, we modeled the equilibrium chemistry of potassium at high pressure in the interior aqueous media in Saturn’s moon Titan to determine the extent of potassium leaching. This, in turn, allows us to test the hydrated silicate core model proposed by J. Castillo-Rogez and NAI Titan deputy PI Jonathan Lunine.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

The basic calculations using SUPRCRIT were completed by Jason Hofgartner and demonstrated that that significant amounts of radioactive potassium-40 can be leached out of a hydrated silicate core into the overlying ocean. This in turn increases the longevity of the hydrated silicate core against dehydration, a longevity suggested by Titan’s moment of inertia

Figure 1.
Potassium activity in an aqueous ammonia system (from Hofgartner et al AGU).

    Jonathan Lunine
    Project Investigator

    Christophe Sotin

    Jason Hofgartner

    Objective 1.1
    Formation and evolution of habitable planets.

    Objective 2.1
    Mars exploration.

    Objective 2.2
    Outer Solar System exploration

    Objective 3.2
    Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules

    Objective 7.1
    Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials