Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cassini observations present glimpse into Titan’s relationship with Earth

13.05.2005


Observations of Titan’s atmosphere offer a unique look at how Saturn’s giant moon compares to Earth.



Titan is the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere. Like Earth, Titan’s atmosphere is primarily composed of nitrogen, but unlike Earth, one of the most abundant constituents is methane (CH4). The Huygens probe will determine if the abundance of argon exceeds that of methane. Methane, the main component in natural gas, plays a key role in the make-up of atmospheric conditions on Titan.

The organic chemistry that occurs in Titan’s atmosphere is an analog of the processes that may have been present in the early terrestrial atmosphere. The research appears in the May 13 edition of the journal Science. Using an infrared spectrometer on the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, researchers have measured the temperature, winds and chemical composition of Titan.


Edward Wishnow of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory participated in the research by measuring the spectrum of methane in the laboratory at temperatures and densities similar to Titan’s - about 113 Kelvin (-256 degrees F) and about one atmosphere pressure. The measurements were performed with a unique spectrometer and cryogenic gas absorption cell in collaboration with H. Gush and I. Ozier at the University of British Columbia, and G. Orton at the Jet Propulsion Lab.

"Titan’s spectrum shows sharp emission lines that arise due to methane in the stratosphere that is warmer than the underlying denser atmospheric layers," Wishnow said. The correspondence between the lab and Titan spectra is obvious and the strength of the laboratory lines is used to ascertain the abundance of methane in Titan’s upper atmosphere, he said.

The Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) is an instrument that measures the intensity of far-infrared radiation, light with wavelengths between those of radar and near-infrared light. These wavelengths are associated with radiation emission by the constituent gases of Titan’s atmosphere. Other researchers on the project discovered that Titan exhibits seasonal changes in its stratospheric temperatures and winds that are similar to Earth’s.

"Part of the exhilaration of our scientific exploration comes from understanding how Titan is similar to Earth as well as how it differs," said CIRS principal investigator F. Michael Flasar of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "The CIRS observations of Titan’s stratosphere indicate that its winter (northern) pole has many properties in common with Earth’s: cold temperatures, strong circumpolar winds and anomalous concentrations of several compounds (on Titan, organic molecules) that are reminiscent of conditions within the winter polar regions on Earth, the so-called ozone holes. In both cases the essential ingredient is the strong winds, which isolate the polar air and inhibit mixing with that at lower latitudes."

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated
23.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

nachricht Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top
20.04.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle

23.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Joining metals without welding

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

Researchers illuminate the path to a new era of microelectronics

23.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>