Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spanish scientists confirm the existence of electrical activity on Titan

29.07.2008
Physicists from the University of Granada and University of Valencia have developed a procedure for analysing specific data sent by the Huygens probe from Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons, “unequivocally” proving that there is natural electrical activity in its atmosphere.

The scientific community believe that the probability of organic molecules, precursors of life, being formed is higher on planets or moons which have an atmosphere with electrical storms.

The researcher, Juan Antonio Morente, from the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Granada, indicated to SINC that Titan has been considered a “unique world in the solar system” since 1908 when, the Spanish astronomer, José Comas y Solá, discovered that it had an atmosphere, something non-existent on other moons. “On this moon clouds with convective movements are formed and, therefore, static electrical fields and stormy conditions can be produced”, he explained.

“This also considerably increases the possibility of organic and prebiotic molecules being formed, according to the theory of the Russian biochemist Alexander I. Oparín and the experiment of Stanley L. Miller”, which managed to synthesise organic compounds from inorganic compounds through electrical discharges. “That is why Titan has been one of the main objectives of the Cassini-Huygens joint mission of NASA and the European Space Agency”, added the researcher.

Morente indicated that in order to detect natural electrical activity on planets such as Earth or moons such as Titan the so-called “Schumann resonances”, a set of spectrum peaks in the extremely low frequency (ELF) portion of the radio spectrum, are measured. These peaks are produced due to the existence between the ionosphere and the surface of a huge resonant cavity in which electromagnetic fields are confined. They present two basic components: a radial electrical field and a tangential magnetic field, accompanied by a weak tangential electrical field (one hundred times smaller than the radial component).

The electrical field was measured by the mutual impedance probe (MIP), one of the instruments transported by the Huygens probe. The MIP consisted of four electrodes, two transmitters and two receptors, with a transmitter-receptor pair on each one of the probe’s folding arms. The MIP was primarily used for measuring the atmosphere’s electrical conductivity, but between each measurement of this physical magnitude it also acted as a dipolar antenna, measuring the natural electrical field in the atmosphere.

“In a stable fall, without balancing, the MIP would have measured the electrical field’s weak tangential component”, said Morente, “but fortunately a strong wind balanced the probe and the electrodes measured a superposition of that tangential and radial component”.

Despite this, the electrical field spectrums received directly from Huygens did not follow the patterns the scientists expected, as they were relatively flat and no Schumann resonances were observed. However, the team of Spanish researchers did manage to devise a procedure for revealing the hidden Schumann resonances, based on the separation of time signals known as “early” and “late-time”, which made it possible to obtain “irrefutable proof” that natural electrical activity does exist in Titan's atmosphere.

In the work, subsidised by the former Ministry of Education and Science, Government of Andalusia and the European Union, it was also explained that the atmosphere of this one of Saturn’s moon is an electromagnetic medium with high losses, and that its resonant cavity is less ideal than the Earth’s.

| alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Massive photons in an artificial magnetic field
14.11.2019 | Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw

nachricht A new approach to the hunt for dark matter
14.11.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

14.11.2019 | Materials Sciences

Massive photons in an artificial magnetic field

14.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer Radio Technology becomes part of the worldwide Telecom Infra Project (TIP)

14.11.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>