Thermodynamical Study of Astrochemical Environment of Titan

Student: Yogeshbhai Patel

Degree: Ph.D., May 2023

Major Professor: Dr. Pradeep Kumar

Research Area(s):

Modeling and Simulation

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  • Besides earth, Saturn’s giant moon Titan is the only other planetary body that has stable and accessible liquid, an active hydrologic cycle like Earth, and a dense atmosphere with a pressure about 1.5 times that of Earth and temperature = 90 K


  • Using a numerical model and existing solubility data of nitrogen in methane and ethane, It has been hypothesized that the transient bright features detected by Cassini’s RADAR may be due to exsolution of nitrogen giving rise to large nitrogen bubbles detected as bright objects.


  • The figure explains the process of molecular dynamics simulation.
  • The arrow indicates a path sequence the process will be done.
  • The main process is calculating forces, computing motion of atoms, and showing statistical analysis the configuration for each molecule.
  • This process generate trajectories of molecule over a limited time period, typically of the orders of tens of ns.

Key Results

  • Performed MD simulations of 2000 molecules of (Methane and Ethane) system. We calculated thermodynamic and dynamic properties (density, entropy and diffusion constant) of binary mixtures of methane and ethane at different conditions that may exist on Europa.


  • Present study evaluated the densities of the phases involved and diffusion measurement is also included at various temperature and pressure.

  • Overall, our measurements simulating Titan’s surface conditions provide grounding for physical phenomena and effects associated with nitrogen dissolution and exsolution in Titan’s lakes and seas.

Future Work

  • These studies pave the way for future thermodynamic models and more detailed examination of pluvial, fluvial, and lacustrine processes that occur on Titan’s lakes, sea’s, and surface.