In a new study, they tried to uncover one of the greatest mysteries of Saturn’s satellite Titan. It is about the origin of its dense and nitrogen-rich atmosphere. Scientists believe that special attention should be paid to the creation of organic material in the interior of the moon.
Titan is interested in scientists because of the dense atmospheric layer, thanks to which it has become unique among the satellites of the solar system. It is also the only body other than the Earth, which has a huge amount of liquid on the surface. But if we have water, then on Titan - liquid hydrocarbons. In fact, it is a source of organic chemistry, so the intrigue is growing every year.
This is a raw snapshot of Saturn’s Titan’s satellite taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its last close flight on April 21, 2017.
The atmosphere of Titan is more dense than Earth and is represented by nitrogen. But what creates it? The main theory was that ammonia ice from comets due to a fall or photochemistry turned into nitrogen with the creation of the atmosphere. It is important to take into account the fact that the atmosphere of Titan contains about 5% of methane, which quickly reacts with the formation of organic matter, gradually falling to the surface. As a result, atmospheric methane should be replenished or is it just a unique era for the satellite. The new study is based on data from the spacecraft Rosette, who studied the distant comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The analysis showed that the comet was half ice, a quarter of the stone and another quarter - organic material.
Comets and primitive bodies of the Solar System are of interest because they are considered remnants of building blocks. They could merge into larger bodies, like Titan, which means you can find dense and rich in organic matter rocky material in the satellite's core.
To study the secret of Titan, scientists have combined existing information about organic material in meteorites with previous thermal models of the lunar interior. This would help to understand how much gaseous material could be produced and whether it was comparable to the current atmosphere. It turned out that half of the atmospheric nitrogen and, possibly, all of the methane can be the result of the “preparation” of these organic substances that were in Titan initially (from the moment of formation).