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New model designed to explore Titan`s atmosphere

Last Updated: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 22:39

Washington: Prof. Vladimir Krasnopolsky, researcher from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, has designed a new model that provided the latest data of Titan`s atmosphere.

The atmosphere of Saturn`s largest moon was described by a model that took into account the presence of 83 neutral molecules and33 ions and420 different chemical reactions between them. Despite the fact that Titan has been located much further from the Sun than the Earth and that radiation flux coming from the Sun to the moon was 100 times less, the intensity of UV rays was enough to spur photochemical reactions in the upper layers of Titan`s atmosphere.
Titan`s atmosphere would be 1.6 times denser near the surface than the Earth`s air, and the data was obtained from several sources, the main of which was the Cassini orbiter. It was equipped with a number of gauges, including ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers and equipment for studying the ions that were drawn into space. Within ten years in Saturn`s orbit, a plasma complex and a mass spectrometer designed specifically for this research project gathered enough data to compare it with mathematical models.

Comparing this data with the previously developed model, Krasnopolsky showed that the theoretical description of Titan`s atmosphere matches the reality quite accurately. There were discrepancies, however, but they were caused by inevitable measurement errors, so far the concentrations of many substances are approximate. The most important thing was not the absolute matching of specific parameters but the correctness of the general model of chemical processes.

Krasnopolsky said that the coherence of the model with reality means that they could correctly tell where different substances go from Titan`s ionosphere and where they come from.

The article is published in the journal Icarus.

First Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 22:39

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