Ultraviolet-Photoproduced Organic Solids Synthesized Under Simulated Jovian Conditions: Molecular Analysis

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Science  17 Mar 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4334, pp. 1199-1201
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4334.1199


In an earlier paper, Khare and Sagan reported the production of a brownish polymeric material from the near-ultraviolet irradiation of simulated jovian atmospheres with a low hydrogen abundance. Examination of this product indicates that hydrogen sulfide is the initial photon acceptor; the powder resulting after extraction with benzene is 84 percent sulfur, largely S8. In results reported here, the remaining 16 percent was pyrolyzed and then examined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Pyrolysis at 450°C yielded a series of alkanes, alkenes, C3-alkylbenzenes, aromatics, thiophenes, alkylthiophenes, alkylmercaptans, alkyldisulfides, together with the nitrogenous compounds hydrogen cyanide, methyl cyanide, alkylisothiocyanates, acrylonitrile, and allylisothiocyanates. Some of these compounds might be sought on Jupiter and Saturn and their satellites by remote infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy and directly by entry probes.