"Now we can say that this material has a strong aromatic character, which helps us understand more about the complex mixture of molecules that makes up Titan's haze," said
The material had been detected earlier in data gathered by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer, an instrument that makes observations at wavelengths in the far infrared region, beyond red light. The spectral signature of the material suggested it was made up of a mixture of molecules.
To investigate that mixture, the researchers turned to the tried-and-true approach of combining gases in a chamber and letting them react. The idea is that if the experiment starts with the right gases and under the right conditions, the reactions in the lab should yield the same products found in Titan's smoggy atmosphere. The process is like being given a slice of cake and trying to figure out the recipe by tasting it. If you can make a cake that tastes like the original slice, then you chose the right ingredients.
Now that the basic recipe has been demonstrated, future work will concentrate on tweaking the experimental conditions to perfect it.
"Titan's chemical makeup is veritable zoo of complex molecules," said
Keywords for this news article include: Aerospace,
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