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Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, Universités Paris Est Créteil & Paris Diderot, UMR CNRS 7583, IPSL, 61 Avenue Général de Gaulle, 94010 Créteil Cedex, France
; Fax: +33 1 4517 1564
; Tel: +33 1 4517 1558
Chem. Soc. Rev., 2012,41, 5380-5393
16 Jan 2012,
First published online
05 Apr 2012
Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, is the only one in the solar system with a dense atmosphere. Mainly composed of dinitrogen with several % of methane, this atmosphere experiences complex organic processes, both in the gas and aerosol phases, which are of prebiotic interest and within an environment of astrobiological interest. This tutorial review presents the different approaches which can be followed to study such an exotic place and its chemistry: observation, theoretical modeling and experimental simulation. It describes the Cassini–Huygens mission, as an example of observational tools, and gives the new astrobiologically oriented vision of Titan which is now available by coupling the three approaches. This includes the many analogies between Titan and the Earth, in spite of the much lower temperature in the Saturn system, the complex organic chemistry in the atmosphere, from the gas to the aerosol phases, but also the potential organic chemistry on Titan's surface, and in its possible internal water ocean.
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