Roland Thissen

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The discovery of large (>100 u) molecules in Titan's upper atmosphere has heightened astrobiological interest in this unique satellite. In particular, complex organic aerosols produced in atmospheres containing C, N, O, and H, like that of Titan, could be a source of prebiotic molecules. In this work, aerosols produced in a Titan atmosphere simulation(More)
In this work Titan's atmospheric chemistry is simulated using a capacitively coupled plasma radio frequency discharge in a N(2)-CH(4) stationnary flux. Samples of Titan's tholins are produced in gaseous mixtures containing either 2 or 10% methane before the plasma discharge, covering the methane concentration range measured in Titan's atmosphere. We study(More)
Coupling an ion trap with synchrotron radiation is shown here to be a powerful approach to measure photoionization cross sections on ionic species relaxed in their ground state. The photoionization efficiency curve of Xe+ ions stored in a Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance ion trap was recorded at ELETTRA in the 20-23 eV photon energy range. Absolute(More)
Experimental simulations of the initial steps of the ion-molecule reactions occurring in the ionosphere of Titan were performed at the synchrotron source Elettra in Italy. The measurements consisted of irradiating gas mixtures with a monochromatic photon beam, from the methane ionization threshold at 12.6 eV, up to and beyond the molecular nitrogen(More)
This paper presents a review of the current knowledge on the doubly-charged atomic and molecular positive ions in the planetary atmospheres of the Solar System. It is focused on the terrestrial planets which have a dense atmosphere of N(2) or CO(2), i.e. Venus, the Earth and Mars, but also includes Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, which has a dense(More)
Gas phase VUV single-photon photoionization spectroscopy of electrospray-produced multiply protonated cytochrome c protein (12 kDa) has been performed by means of coupling a linear quadrupole ion trap with a synchrotron beamline. The thresholds for the ionization of the 8+ and 11+ charge state precursors to radical 9+ and 12+ species were measured to be(More)
The polymeric composition of Titan's tholins--laboratory analogues of Titan's aerosols--is elucidated using high-resolution mass spectrometry. This complex organic matter is produced by plasma discharge in a gaseous nitrogen-methane mixture and analyzed with a hybrid linear trap/orbitrap mass-spectrometer. The highly structured mass spectra are treated with(More)
HCN polymers are complex organic solids resulting from the polymerization of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) molecules. They have been suspected to contribute to the refractory carbonaceous component of comets as well as the distributed CN sources in cometary atmospheres. Titan's tholins are also organic compounds produced in a laboratory setting but result from the(More)
The description of planetary and interstellar chemistry relies strongly on ion-molecule reaction rate data collected at room temperature or above. However, the temperature in the ionospheres of planets and in the interstellar medium can decrease down to 100 K and 10 K, respectively. We present here a simple semiempirical method to extend available(More)