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NASA experiments recreate aromatic flavors of Titan

July 2, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Defense & Aerospace Week -- The recipe is used for lab experiments designed to simulate Titan's chemistry. With this approach, the team was able to classify a previously unidentified material discovered by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in the moon's smoggy haze.

"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 Melissa Trainer, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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 Scott Edgington, Cassini Deputy Project Scientist at NASA'sJet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "With the combination of laboratory experiments and Cassini data, we gain an understanding of just how complex and wondrous this Earth-like moon really is."

Keywords for this news article include: Aerospace, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Government Agencies Offices and Entities.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC


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Source: Defense & Aerospace Week


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