Plastic on Titan

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 8,695
    New Cassini data reveals evidence of propylene, which is used to make plastic on Earth, in Titan’s atmosphere.

     The Cassini spacecraft has identified plastic ingredients in Titan’s atmosphere.  The spacecraft’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer revealed the chemical propylene at all levels of the moon’s lower atmosphere.  This chemical is what we use to make the plastic polypropylene, and you might know it best by the #5 at the bottom of your bottle when you go to recycle.  Scientists at NASA knew that propylene should exist on Titan, as manyother hydrocarbons are found on the moon, but proof of that had eluded ground observations and Voyager 1. Cassini was finally able to sift through other stronger chemical signals to identify the propylene and scientists expect to find more hidden chemical’s on Titan as well.  One scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab said, “This new piece of the puzzle will provide an additional test of how well we understand the chemical zoo that makes up Titan’satmosphere.”