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A Cross-Laboratory Comparison Study of Titan Haze Analogs: Surface Energy

Presentation #405.01 in the session “Titan Surface-Atmosphere Interaction”.

Published onOct 03, 2021
A Cross-Laboratory Comparison Study of Titan Haze Analogs: Surface Energy

In Titan’s nitrogen-methane atmosphere, photochemistry leads to the production of complex organic particles, forming Titan’s thick haze layers. Laboratory-produced aerosol analogs, or “tholins”, are produced in a number of laboratories; however, most previous studies have investigated analogs produced by only one laboratory rather than a systematic, comparative analysis. In this study, we performed a comparative study of an important material property, the surface energy, of seven tholin samples produced in three independent laboratories (the photochemical aerosol chamber/PAC facility at the University of Northern Iowa [1], the planetary haze research/PHAZER facility at Johns Hopkins University [2], and the COSmIC facility at NASA Ames Research Center [3]) under a broad range of experimental conditions, and explored their commonalities and differences. All seven tholin samples are found to have high surface energies, and are therefore highly cohesive. Thus, if the surface sediments on Titan are similar to tholins, future missions such as Dragonfly will likely encounter sticky sediments. We also identified a commonality between all the tholin samples: a high dispersive (non-polar) surface energy component of at least 30 mJ/m2. This common property could be shared by the actual haze particles on Titan as well. Given that the most abundant species interacting with the haze on Titan (methane, ethane, and nitrogen) are non-polar in nature, the dispersive surface energy component of the haze particles could be a determinant factor in condensate-haze and haze-lake liquids interactions on Titan. With this common trait of tholin samples, we confirmed the findings of a previous study [4] that haze particles are likely good cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) for methane and ethane clouds and would likely be completely wetted by the hydrocarbon lakes on Titan.

References: [1] Sebree, J. A. et al., (2018). J. Photoch. Photobio. A, 360.1. [2] He, C. et al., (2017). ApJL, 841, L31. [3] Sciamma-O'Brien et al., (2017). Icarus, 289, 314. [4] Yu, X. et al., (2020). ApJ, 905(2), 88.

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