Astrobiology presentation


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Astrobiology presentation

  1. 1. Plate Tectonics:Ice-Quake Mapping of Titan<br />James Kuhn, Caralee Starling, Mikenna Smith<br />
  2. 2. Credentials<br />Caralee Starling, Ph. D<br />Doctorate of Geology, Post-Doctorate of Seismology<br />Professor of Earth Sciences at Princeton University<br />James Kuhn, Ph. D<br />Doctorate of Aerospace Engineering<br />NASA Head Aerospace Engineer on the Cassini mission and Huygen rover <br />Mikenna Smith, Ph. D<br />Doctorate of Analytical Chemistry<br />NASA Analyst of extraterrestrial atmospheric compositions<br />
  3. 3. Background<br />Earth’s Plate Tectonics:<br />Promote high levels of global biodiversity<br />Geological features create environmental complexity and stimulate speciation<br />Affect global climate <br />Recycle mineral and chemical compounds in sedimentary rock and release of greenhouse gases via volcanic eruption <br />Aid in the generation of magnetic field <br />Evacuate heat released by convection cells in the liquid iron core that originate from Earth’s rotation<br />
  4. 4. Background<br />Titan:<br />Geological surface features<br />Appalachian-sized mountain chains, highest peak 6,600 feet<br />Possible ice volcano SotraFacula<br />Atmosphere<br />95% nitrogen and 5% hydrocarbons <br />Possibly replenished by volcanic eruption<br />Surface liquid<br />Liquid hydrocarbon rivers and lakes <br />Possible subsurface ocean <br />Theorized to exist 62 miles below surface, separating it from the core and allowing the crust to move <br />
  5. 5. SotraFacula<br />
  6. 6. Reflection from Titan Lake<br />
  7. 7. Mountain Chains<br />
  8. 8. Aims<br />Find evidence for plate tectonics by looking for:<br /> Ridge movement around SotraFacula<br />The placement and depth of possible ice-quakes<br />Stratigraphy suggesting unconformity in the sediment<br />Historical atmospheric composition (stability)<br />
  9. 9. Aim and Experiment I<br />To determine if SotraFacula is on a divergent plate boundary <br />Four rovers will be sent to Titan and situated around the theorized ice volcano, SotraFacula<br />Rovers will be stationary and remote signal between each rover to determine if the distance between any of them increases over the span of the mission<br />
  10. 10. Aim and Experiment II<br />To record the location and depth of possible ice-quakes<br />Four rovers will be equipped with seismographs to record the theorized seismic activity resulting from ice-quakes to map out the plate boundaries<br />
  11. 11. Aim and Experiment III<br />To search for evidence of geological disruption around SotraFacula by examining the stratigraphy of the drill cores<br />The drill cores will be imaged to analyze the strata of ice layers. Angular unconformities will indicate plate tectonics<br />
  12. 12. Aim and Experiment IV<br />To examine Titan’s historic atmospheric composition<br />In addition, the rovers will be equipped with a gas chromatograph<br /> Ice-cores will be drilled around SotraFacula and air trapped in the ice-cores will be analyzed with the gas chromatograph to evaluate past atmospheric conditions <br />
  13. 13. Significance<br /><ul><li>Importance of plate tectonics on Earth
  14. 14. Prerequisite for life</li></ul>Opportunity to look at other conditions of plate tectonics<br />Titan is the best candidate for such plate tectonics in our solar system<br />
  15. 15. References<br />Ward P, Brownlee D. The Surprising Importance of Plate Tectonics. In: Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. New York: Copernicus Books. 2000. p.191-220.<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: Cassini Spacecraft Images Seas on Saturn’s Moon Titan; 2007 [cited April 2011]; [About 10 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: Raisin’ Mountains on Saturn’s Moon Titan; 2010 [cited April 2011]; [About 12 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: Surprise Hidden on Titan’s Smog: Circus-Like Clouds; 2011 [cited April 2011]; [About 33 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: NASA Confirms Liquid Lake on Saturn Moon; 2008 [cited April 2011]; [About 10 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: Cassini Spacecraft Finds Ocean May Exist Beneath Titan’s Crust; 2008 [cited April 2011]; [About 9 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: New Theory: Titan Shaped by Weathering, Not Ice Volcanoes; 2011 [cited April 2011]; [About 13 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />NASA [Internet]. Washington D.C.: Saturn’s Moon Titan: Planet Wannabe; 2004 [cited April 2011]; [About 25 paragraphs]. Available from:<br />Images retrieved from NASA<br />
  16. 16. Questions?<br />Thank you for your time.<br />