Dr Melody A S Sylvestre

PhD(University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris), MSc(University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris), MSc(University Pierre et Marie, Paris)

  • BS8 1RJ

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Research interests

I study the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's biggest moon. It is mainly composed of nitrogen (98% of N2) and methane (1.48% of CH4). Titan's atmosphere has unique characteristics in the Solar System. It is the only atmosphere detected around a moon. It also the only place where a cycle analogous to Earth's water cycle has been observed: evaporation from Titan's methane seas forms methane clouds, which gives birth to methane rains which form methane rivers which go back into the methane seas. Titan's atmosphere also features a very complex chemistry. It starts with the breaking of nitrogen and methane, mainly by solar UV photons. This triggers a chain of chemical reactions, which create numerous species such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN), acetylene (C2H2), ethane (C6H6) or benzene (C6H6). As these different gases react further together, they form more and more complex organics and eventually solid particles in suspension in the atmosphere, known as hazes. These hazes are responsible for the nearly uniform yellow/orange appearance of Titan.

My work consists in analyzing observations of Titan's stratosphere (from 50 km to 400 km). I am particularly interested in seasonal variations of temperature and composition as they give insights on the chemical and dynamical processes at play.

 

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