Mars and Titan's atmosphere and interior

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Earth Sciences

Abstract

Mars and Titan (Saturn's largest moon) are the two most Earth-like bodies in the solar system. Both planets have been suggested as possible locations for biological activity, either in the past, present, or future. What type of organisms might exist and whether they do exist is the topic of intense scientific debate and research. If life is found on another planet, it would have far reaching effects on the way we view our place in the universe and be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. To understand the type of life that could occur on these bodies, and how we might look for it, requires in-depth knowledge of the environment of each planet. This is what I plan to focus my research on - in collaboration with major world-wide institutes such as NASA and ESA. Mars has a thin CO2 atmosphere and many surface features in common with Earth - e.g. river valleys (now dry) and sedimentary rocks. Recent evidence shows Mars was much more hospitable in the past with warmer temperatures and a thicker atmosphere, similar to Earth's early atmosphere. New results from NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers show evidence for prolonged existence of liquid water on the surface. Key to understanding this early environment is Mars' internal structure as this determined much about the surface of young Mars, including protection of the atmosphere from solar radiation, volcanoes which may have supplied much of the atmospheric gases, and interior convection/heat-flow which influenced surface geology. Knowledge of Mars' interior is currently very limited - we do not even know how big Mars' core is and whether it is liquid or solid. The best way to probe the interior is with seismology, as we do on Earth. The ExoMars mission includes a seismometer, which will use Marsquakes to probe the interior. I will calibrate and test the seismometer to ensure that the data can be interpreted properly, while simultaneously developing seismic models of Mars' interior using techniques modified from those developed for global seismology of Earth. Also key to understanding Mars' past environment is understanding the present atmosphere and climate change. It is not known if Mars' current climate is stable - water vapour migrates away from the poles each Martian summer and it is not known if it returns. One exciting possibility is that Mars is changing from one climate state to another. This question can only be answered with a combination of spacecraft and telescope observations. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft is the latest and most advanced to enter orbit around Mars. I will use data from MRO to determine water and dust distribution in Mars' atmosphere and determine what effect these have on climate. Titan is an example of an Earth-like planet in the cold outer solar system. Titan has a thick atmosphere and has clouds and rain just like on Earth, but made of methane instead of water. The recent Cassini mission has shown many fascinating surface features including, methane lakes, valleys, volcanoes, and sand dunes made of tiny ice crystals. Titan's atmosphere is a breeding ground for organic molecules like benzene. Some very complicated molecules are expected to exist at the North pole, where they are protected from destruction by sun light by Titan's shadow. Cassini performed multiple flybys over the pole during 2006-2007, giving us our first ever view of this exciting region. Many of the organic molecules present in the measured infra-red spectra are yet to be identified. The global distribution of organic molecules can be used to probe Titan's atmospheric motions like the polar vortex and planet-wide circulation cells. Titan's spring equinox is in 2009 when models predict extensive and rapid changes in the atmosphere - especially at the winter pole. This pole is never visible from Earth and Cassini provides a unique opportunity to observe the polar vortex break-up, which will not be possible again for at least 30years.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ST/F007957/1 01/10/2008 30/06/2010 £423,863
ST/F007957/2 Transfer ST/F007957/1 01/07/2010 30/09/2013 £279,598
 
Description Titan radiative cooling in polar vortex, Titan atmosphere reversal
Mars impact seismicity
Uranus CO abundance
Jupiter HCl abundance
Future missions
Exploitation Route Future mission development
Titan, Mars, and outer planet research
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment

URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/earthsciences/people/nick-a-teanby/index.html
 
Description Titan's atmosphere, Mars interior, mission development
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description (EROS) - ExploRing the surface slopes Of aSteroids
Amount € 224,933 (EUR)
Funding ID 837894 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2021
 
Description Aurora
Amount £233,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/N001044/1 
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 07/2018
 
Description Aurora
Amount £391,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/R002096/1 
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2021
 
Description Aurora
Amount £59,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/R001367/1 
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 06/2020
 
Description Leverhulme Trust
Amount £70,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2011 
End 01/2014
 
Title Titan atmospheric temperature and composition database from Cassini 
Description Titan atmospheric temperature and composition database from Cassini 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Use by other researchers and modellers 
URL https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018GL081401
 
Description ALMA 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Goddard Space Flight Center
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Radiative transfer analysis of new ALMA data
Collaborator Contribution Data reduction of new ALMA data
Impact Publication of HNC and HCN abundance on Titan
Start Year 2014
 
Description Cassini 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Goddard Space Flight Center
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Impact publications (see pubs section)
 
Description Cassini 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Impact publications (see pubs section)
 
Description Cassini 
Organisation Observatory of Paris
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Impact publications (see pubs section)
 
Description Cassini 
Organisation SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Impact publications (see pubs section)
 
Description Cassini 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and interpretation
Impact publications (see pubs section)
 
Description GSFC 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Goddard Space Flight Center
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Impact over 25 research papers published since 2006
Start Year 2006
 
Description GSFC 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Goddard Space Flight Center
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Publications and access to data
Impact Contributions to 25 scientific papers since 2006
Start Year 2006
 
Description InSight 
Organisation Birkbeck, University of London
Department Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution seismic lab experiments and theoretical seismic modelling
Collaborator Contribution Hardware development
Impact Development of InSight micro seismometer
Start Year 2008
 
Description InSight 
Organisation Imperial College London
Department Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution seismic lab experiments and theoretical seismic modelling
Collaborator Contribution Hardware development
Impact Development of InSight micro seismometer
Start Year 2008
 
Description InSight 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution seismic lab experiments and theoretical seismic modelling
Collaborator Contribution Hardware development
Impact Development of InSight micro seismometer
Start Year 2008
 
Description JPL 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data for publication
Impact Publication of over 10 scientific papers
Start Year 2006
 
Description JPL 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Impact Over 1o research papers published since 2006
Start Year 2006
 
Description Johns Hopkins University 
Organisation Johns Hopkins University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific collaboration (Titan) including hosting a visiting PhD student.
Collaborator Contribution Scientific collaboration / funds for visiting student
Impact Telescope time application for ALMA
Start Year 2010
 
Description Netherlands 
Organisation SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint publications and research
Collaborator Contribution Joint publications and research
Impact Five joint publications
Start Year 2009
 
Description New Zealand 
Organisation Victoria University of Wellington
Department School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
Country New Zealand 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of new research methods
Collaborator Contribution Joint publication of new research methodology
Impact Publication in JGR and development of new seismic methods for data analysis
Start Year 2010
 
Description Oxford 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Impact More than 10 joint papers published since 2010
Start Year 2010
 
Description Paris 
Organisation Observatory of Paris
Department Laboratory for Space Science and Astrophysical Instrumentation
Country France 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Impact Publication of over 15 research papers since 2006
Start Year 2006
 
Description Paris 
Organisation Observatory of Paris
Department Laboratory for Space Science and Astrophysical Instrumentation
Country France 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Collaborator Contribution Analysis and interpretation of spacecraft data
Impact Published over 15 papers on planetary atmospheres
Start Year 2006
 
Title Intersection between spacecraft viewing vectors and digital elevation models 
Description Intersection between spacecraft viewing vectors and digital elevation models 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2009 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Use in a missions. eg Cassini, MRO, LRO 
URL https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2007.11.007
 
Description Organization and hosting of the festival "De La Plage aux Étoiles" in Collioure (France) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Organization and hosting of the festival "De La Plage aux Étoiles" in Collioure (France). It is an astrophysics outreach festival with exhibitions, conferences and sky observations with telescopes. (Melody Sylvestre)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.astrocollioure.fr/spip/
 
Description Association for Science Education demonstration session 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Demonstration session (Anna Horleston)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://aseannualconference2019.sched.com/anna.horleston
 
Description BBC Radio Bristol Interview (InSight Landing) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on BBC local radio about the mission (Nick Teanby)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BCFM radio interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio interview on "love and science hour" (Anna Horleston)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BUMPS talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation to industrial consortium exploring novel and cutting edge seismic technologies
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Bristol Community Radio 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Short live radio interview about space exploration

Radio broadcast
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Cosmic Shed podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Guest on Mars podcast (Bob Myhill)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://thecosmicshed.podbean.com/e/door-14-the-cosmic-shed-advent-calendar/
 
Description EGU Mission Blog for InSight 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Article on InSight mission
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.egu.eu/geolog/2018/11/23/nasas-insight-mission-detecting-earthquakes-on-the-surface-of...
 
Description InSight Landing press release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Coordinated press release fro landing of NASA InSight mission. Coordinated between STFC, University of Bristol, University of Oxford, and Imperial college. (Anna Horleston, Nick Teanby)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/news/marsquakes-mission-successfully-lands-on-red-planet
 
Description Interview for the podcast Curious About 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interview for the podcast Curious About. Careers and science focus. (Melody Sylvestre)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://cap.podbean.com/e/physics-1534576936/
 
Description Keynote Speaker at PGRiP conference (Cardiff) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited talk (Anna Horleston)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://bga2018.co.uk/programme/
 
Description Keynote speaker at National Space Academy Careers Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Invited Keynote talk on space careers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description National Instruments Case Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Case study about use of compact USB dataloggers in extreme environments
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description New Scientist Impacts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contribution to article about a recent paper on Mars meteorite impacts
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Outreach conference about Cassini for the amateur astronomy club Janus in Gennevilliers (France) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Outreach conference about Cassini for the amateur astronomy club Janus in Gennevilliers (France) (Melody Sylvestre)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Outreach conference about Cassini for the amateur astronomy club Janus in Gennevilliers (France) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Outreach conference about Cassini for the amateur astronomy club Janus in Gennevilliers (France) (Melody Sylvestre)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Outreach talks to Schools (2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talks about the InSight mission to multiple schools over the year. Including:
-Monmouth School for Girls
-Manor Prep Abingdon
-Cathedral School, Llandaff Junior School
-Elmlea Junior School Bristol
(Anna Horleston)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Popular Science Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 90min presentation at a local pub to undergraduate science society

none
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Press release on Titan research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact press release
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2019/04/11/extended-winter-polar-vortices-chill-saturns-strangely-fam...
 
Description Talk at public InSight landing event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk at landing event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/news/2018/12/20/mars-insight-landing
 
Description Titan Vortex 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release, media interviews, and associated publicity surrounding Nature Comms article on Titan's winter polar vortex
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.stfc.ac.uk/news/titans-unique-chemistry-causes-strange-atmospheric-behaviour/
 
Description Titan press release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Paper Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Helped work up a press release on Titan seasonal changes published in Nature

Further media interest and enquiries about the research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description You tube interview about InSight landing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviewed on Youtube channel (Anna Horleston)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbPycHs8xS0&t=20s