Cassini-Huygens supplied new evidence about why Titan has an atmosphere, making it unique among all solar system moons, a University of Arizona planetary scientist says.
This mosaic of Titans surface was made from 16 images. The individual images have been specially processed to remove effects of Titans hazy atmosphere and to improve visibility of the surface near the terminator (the boundary between day and night). (Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute) Titan is one of only four solar system terrestrial bodies that has an atmosphere. That mostly nitrogen atmosphere probably came from liquid ammonia on Titan, according to UAs Jonathan Lunine.
Scientists can infer from Cassini-Huygens results that Titan has ammonia, said Jonathan I. Lunine, an interdisciplinary scientist for the European Space Agencys Huygens probe that landed on Titan last month. "I think whats clear from the data is that Titan has accreted or acquired significant amounts of ammonia, as well as water," Lunine said. "If ammonia is present, it may be responsible for resurfacing significant parts of Titan." He predicts that Cassini instruments will find that Titan has a liquid ammonia-and-water layer beneath its hard, water-ice surface. Cassini will see -- Cassini radar has likely already seen -- places where liquid ammonia-and-water slurry erupted from extremely cold volcanoes and flowed across Titans landscape. Ammonia in the thick mixture released in this way, called "cryovolcanism," could be the source of molecular nitrogen, the major gas in Titans atmosphere.
Lunine and five other Cassini scientists reported on the latest results from the Cassini-Huygens mission at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C. today (Feb. 19). Cassini radar imaged a feature that resembles a basaltic flow on Earth when it made its first close pass by Titan in October 2004. Scientists believe that Titan has a rock core, surrounded by an overlying layer of rock-hard water ice. Ammonia in Titans volcanic fluid would lower the freezing point of water, lower the fluids density so it would be about as buoyant as water ice, and increase viscosity to about that of basalt, Lunine said. "The feature seen in the radar data suggests ammonia is at work on Titan in cryovolcanism."
Lori Stiles | EurekAlert!
An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics
25.09.2017 | Universität Kassel
Highest-energy cosmic rays have extragalactic origin
25.09.2017 | CNRS
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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