facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

'Smog' forming on Saturn moon studied

Feb. 5, 2013 at 6:54 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- NASA says its Cassini mission has seen in more detail than ever before how aerosols create "smog" in the highest part of the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

Understanding aerosol formation at Titan could help predict the behavior of similar smoggy aerosol layers on Earth, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Monday.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said Titan's trademark reddish-brown smog appears to begin with solar radiation affecting molecules of nitrogen and methane in the ionosphere, creating a soup of negative and positive ions.

Collisions among the organic molecules and the ions create bigger and more complex aerosols, researchers said, eventually creating hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's surface and form lakes, channels and dunes.

The scientists studied Titan's "smog" with three Cassini instruments: the plasma spectrometer, the ion and neutral mass spectrometer, and the radio and plasma wave science experiment, JPL said.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, and is managed for them by JPL.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
SpaceX Dragon returns safely from ISS, splashes into Pacfic Ocean SpaceX Dragon returns safely from ISS, splashes into Pacfic Ocean
2
Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space
3
Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time
4
Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes
5
Coal-rich Poland wants concessions in EU climate deal Coal-rich Poland wants concessions in EU climate deal
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback