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Chemical composition of Titan's aerosols from in situ Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser measurements

Chemical composition of Titan's aerosols from in situ Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser measurements

Publication date: 08 December 2005

Authors: Israël, G. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 438
Issue: 7069
Page: 796-799
Year: 2005

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

Aerosols in Titan's atmosphere play an important role in determining its thermal structure. They also serve as sinks for organic vapours and can act as condensation nuclei for the formation of clouds, where the condensation efficiency will depend on the chemical composition of the aerosols. So far, however, no direct information has been available on the chemical composition of these particles. Here we report an in situ chemical analysis of Titan's aerosols by pyrolysis at 600 °C. Ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) have been identified as the main pyrolysis products. This clearly shows that the aerosol particles include a solid organic refractory core. NH3 and HCN are gaseous chemical fingerprints of the complex organics that constitute this core, and their presence demonstrates that carbon and nitrogen are in the aerosols.

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