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Astrochemistry

Complex organic matter in Titan's aerosols?

Abstract

Arising from: G. Israël et al. Nature 438, 796–799 (2005); Israël et al. reply

On 14 January 2005, the Huygens probe entered the atmosphere of Titan after a seven-year interplanetary flight as part of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Huygens carried, among other instruments, an aerosol collection and pyrolysis (ACP) device1. Its designers, Israël et al.2, now claim to have detected complex organic matter in two aerosol samples collected at different altitudes (130–35 km and 25–20 km, respectively), on the basis of their detection of ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) when the sample oven was heated to 600 °C. However, the authors' remarkable conclusions, which would have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of the chemical environment prevailing on Saturn's largest moon, are not supported by their limited data.

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References

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Further reading

  • Results from the Huygens probe on Titan

    • Jean-Pierre Lebreton
    • , Athena Coustenis
    • , Jonathan Lunine
    • , François Raulin
    • , Tobias Owen
    •  & Darrell Strobel

    The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review (2009)

  • Complex organic matter in Titan's aerosols? (Reply)

    • G. Israël
    • , C. Szopa
    • , F. Raulin
    • , M. Cabane
    • , H. B. Niemann
    • , S. K. Atreya
    • , S. J. Bauer
    • , J.-F. Brun
    • , E. Chassefière
    • , P. Coll
    • , E. Condé
    • , D. Coscia
    • , A. Hauchecorne
    • , P. Millian
    • , M. J. Nguyen
    • , T. Owen
    • , W. Riedler
    • , R. E. Samuelson
    • , J.-M. Siguier
    • , M. Steller
    • , R. Sternberg
    •  & C. Vidal-Madjar

    Nature (2006)

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