REVIEW AND LATEST RESULTS OF LABORATORY INVESTIGATIONS OF TITAN'S AEROSOLS

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Abstract

Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, has an atmosphere chiefly made up of N2 and CH4, and including many organics. This atmosphere also partly consists of hazes and aerosol particles which shroud the surface of this satellite, giving it a reddish appearance. The aerosols observed in Titan's atmosphere are thought to be synthesized at high altitudes (>300 km) and fall to the surface. Varying with temperature profiles, condensation phenomena take place in the lower atmosphere, about 100 km below. These solid particles, often called‘tholins’, have been currently investigated for many years by laboratory scientists and physics modellers. This paper assesses past research and results in different fields (elemental composition, optical constants, pyrolysis, particle size), highlighting interests and questions aroused by these studies. It also presents the latest results and advances, and concludes with existing problems and future pathways.

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