Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Calculi carried out in the UGR will check the existence of rays in Titan’s atmosphere

06.11.2006
The mission started in 1997, when the satellite Cassini and the probe Huygens started together their trip Saturn, the second biggest planet of the solar system and famous for its rings.

At the end of 2004 they reached their objective and set their division in motion: Cassini, constructed by the NASA, heavier (6 tons), will orbit around the planet until it stops operating in 2008; small Huygens (just 350 kilos), a product of the European space agency (ESA), started its trip to Titan last Christmas and will reach its surface the 14th of January, providing data Cassini will send to Earth.

The main aim of this project, one of the most ambitious in the last 20 years, is checking if there are favourable conditions for life in Saturn and Titan. One of the factors they intend to study is electric activity in the atmosphere of the satellite as, according to one of the main scientific theories on the origin of life on Earth, this process could burst from electric discharges which “broke” the molecules, which where simpler at the beginning, generating more complex structures lead to organic molecules.

Storm measurement

That is why checking Titan’s electric activity is so important. HASI (Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument), is the main instrument to this end. It is situated in Huygens and it has been developed by European scientists with the collaboration of the Andalusian Institute for Astrophysics to cross the 170 kilometres of Titan’s atmosphere, they will carry out measurements that could not be done otherwise. Scientists presume that there must be electric activity, because on Earth, with a less dense atmosphere, about 2,000 storms cause 50 rays per second.

But the question is how to register storms in an experimental way. Different attempts carried out by Cassini, and even by mission Voyager (1980), have been unsuccessful. “The irrefutable proof of electric activity in the atmosphere of a planet or satellite are Schumann´s frequencies”, argues Juan Antonio Morente, researcher of the group ‘Electrodynamics of Transitory Phenomenon’ of the University of Granada (Universidad de Granada [http://www.ugr.es]), supervised by Alfonso Salinas. These frecuencias are like the fingertip of the atmospheric electric activity, as they remain stored in the large “soundbox” formed by the solid surface and the ionosphere.

Schumann predicted by mathematic calculus which would be the frequencies in which there would be electromagnetic resonances on earth’s atmosphere. However, “there is a gap between predictions and measurements, as the ionosphere is a system with leakages due to its high conductivity”, explains Morente. One of his research lines centres on creating numeric models simulating electromagnetic phenomenon in atmospheres of different planets or satellites. The model is based on a three-dimensional circuit called “electric analogue” which works just like the original system, in this case the electromagnetic cavity of the atmosphere.

Atmospheric models

They can be analysed through a computer program also developed by these scientists in the UGR [http://www.ugr.es]. This way, they can predict at what frequency electromagnetic resonances will be detected. The model recreating earth’s atmosphere “predicted with high accuracy the displacement of Schumann’s frequencies due to the leakage related to conductivity”, reminds Morente. Through these works, Konrad Schwingenschuch, of the Graz Institute for Space Research (Austria) and scientific coordinator of the instrument HASI in the mission Cassini-Huygens, got in touch with the researchers of Granada to carry out a model of Titan’s atmosphere.

The scientists of the UGR carried out several models from the present data on Titan’s aeronomy which incorporate different scientific hypotheses on unknown aspects of the satellite, such as the features of its surface or the atmosphere’s conductivity. This work, published in the journal of the American Astronomic Society Icarus in 2002, will be useful as a reference to adjust the measuring the probe Huygens will take of Titan’s activity. According to this model, what do they intend to achieve?

“There may be electric activity but it may not come out due to the density, high deepth and conductivity of the atmosphere. Or there may not be any activity, although it is a very dynamic atmosphere even with at such low temperatures (-180ºC). In any case, it is difficult to predict”, comments Juan Antonio Morente. The collaboration of the research group of Granada with the Graz Institute for Space Research continues in the mission Mars-Netlander, a project of the ESA which intends to study Mars´ magnetic field. The launch is predicted in 2007.

Antonio Marín Ruiz | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ugr.es
http://prensa.ugr.es/prensa/research/index.php

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property
26.07.2017 | City College of New York

nachricht Large, distant comets more common than previously thought
26.07.2017 | University of Maryland

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: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>