Planetary Origins of Chemical Disequilibria Capable of Supporting Life

Project: Research project

Description

The proposed research is designed around two projects in planetary geochemistry and exobiology. One of these studies will focus on how chemical disequilibria emerge in water/rock systems that are common features of terrestrial planets and icy satellites. This project will mainly involve geochemical modeling on two complementary fronts. On the one hand, this project will take advantage of the large base of existing data on the hydrothermal system at Yellowstone assembled by the PI, students, and colleagues since 1999. On the other, existing experimental data about the kinetics of oxidation-reduction reactions involving minerals and fluids will be assembled, critiqued, and employed to make predictions of rates of oxidation-reduction processes that are independent of any set of natural samples. The second study will move from water/rock to fluid/solid systems and research that is needed to characterize chemical disequilibria in the outer solar system. This project will involve refinements of equations and thermodynamic data that will permit theoretical modeling of methane as a solvent. The results will be combined in geochemical models of methane/ice reactions, where ice can include water ice, ammonia ice, hydrocarbons, and other organic compounds, which will be solids at temperatures where methane is a liquid. These models will be applied to characterize fluid/solid reactions on Titan, where methane is the major solvent. We will mainly focus on explaining observable surface data, and will also begin to explore for possible sources of disequilibria.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date4/30/104/29/13

Funding

  • NASA: Goddard Space Flight Center: $395,711.00

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disequilibrium
methane
ice
fluid
exobiology
Titan
hydrothermal system
rock
water
solar system
modeling
organic compound
planet
student
ammonia
thermodynamics
geochemistry
hydrocarbon
kinetics
liquid