DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 5. Laboratory Research I
Oral, Chairs: C. A. Hibbitts and B. W. Hapke, Tuesday, September 2, 2003, 1:30-3:00pm, DeAnza I-II

[Previous] | [Session 5] | [Next]

[5.02] Titan Nitriles Awaiting Detection

R. L. Hudson (Eckerd College), M. H. Moore (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

The nitrogen-methane haze of Titan is known to harbor at least four molecules containing a nitrile (-CN) group: H-CN, NC-CN, CH3-CN, and HCC-CN. The low-temperature reaction chemistry of these molecules is of interest as the Cassini orbiter and Huygens probe approach the Saturnian system. As part of our preparation for Cassini-Huygens results we have undertaken an experimental study of the dominant chemical changes of nitrile molecules. Our results point to isomerization products formed by both low-temperature photochemistry and radiation chemistry. Among the new molecules we can predict are isonitriles (e.g. CH3-NC) and enimines (e.g. H2C=C=NH). We also expect, depending on the amount of H2O present, that cyanate ions (OCN-) can form on Titan. This presentation will include our latest results for Titan nitriles, as well a few nitriles not yet detected on Titan but present in either cometary comae or the interstellar medium. Since nitriles can form biological molecules, such as alpha-amino acids, purines, and pyrimidines, our results may also have astrobiological implications. -- The authors acknowledge NASA funding through the SARA and Planetary Atmospheres programs. RLH acknowledges support from NASA grant NAG-5-1843.

[Previous] | [Session 5] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.