DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 4. Other Planetary Satellites I
Oral, Chairs: L. Bruesch and M. L. Delitsky, Tuesday, September 2, 2003, 1:30-3:00pm, DeAnza III

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[4.01] Saturn's satellites: Potential for organic chemistry

M.L. Delitsky, A.L. Lane (JPL), H. Henry-Riyad, T.T. Tidwell (Univ. Toronto)

The surfaces of the Saturnian satellites are subjected to irradiation from solar wind ions, photons, and magnetospheric ions and electrons. This bombardment will transform the chemical nature of the surfaces. At present, only water ice has been detected on their surfaces. Further studies by the Cassini spacecraft may reveal other molecules. If CO2 ice is found there, a whole panoply of new species may be detected. As nitrogen ions in the magnetosphere are thought to be an important species bombarding the satellites, Delitsky and Lane (2002) outlined the nitrogen oxides chemistry that may result from implantation of N+ into the water ice surfaces. Sittler et al (2002) showed that N+ ions originating from Titan will be enriched in the magnetospheric ion population as they move inwards towards Saturn, making the nitrogen oxides chemistry more likely. If CO2 is present, a complicated C-H-N-O chemistry may result from deposition of the N+ into a H2O/CO2 mixed ice, including nitriles, isocyanates, polymers, and amino acids. The combination of H2O/CO2 upon irradiation may also yield a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, esters, alcohols, organic acids and ketones. Possible chemical pathways and computations of their energetics will be presented.

-Ref:- 1. Delitsky and Lane, Saturn's inner satellites: Ice chemistry and magnetosphere effects, JGR (Planets), Nov 2002, 3-1;; 2. Sittler et al., Energetic nitrogen ions within the inner magnetosphere of Saturn, Fall AGU meeting, Dec 2002, abstracts, pg F858, P21B-0379

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: mld@jpl.nasa.gov

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