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Primitive chemistry in planetary atmospheres: From the upper atmosphere down to the surface

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 PRIMCHEM project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the PRIMCHEM project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "PRIMCHEM" about.

sources    billion    question    atmospheric    simulated    nucleobases    coupled    initiated    totally    seeds    raised    highlighted    external    solar    aging    dust    ago    prebiotic    source    moon    original    combining    emergence    reactor    ocean    theory    components    coating    nitrogen    had    primordial    decipher    experimentally    chemical    laboratory    surface    upper    themselves    lower    material    origins    activation    extrapolate    aerosols    volatiles    analogues    compounds    titan    harsh    inputs    synchrotron    atmosphere    chemistry    earth    bombardment    radiations    sedimenting    uv    occurs    saturn    amongst    layer    exogenous    complementary    altitudes    evolution    comets    solid    specificity    species    plasma    methodology    experimental    radiation    emissions    undergo    issue    sequences    condensable    mimicking    budget    charged    receives    life    interpretation    gas    n2    reactors    successive    meteorites    soup    molecular    particles    interplanetary    organic   

Project "PRIMCHEM" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: Avenue de Paris 55
postcode: 78035

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country France [FR]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙487˙500 €
 EC max contribution 1˙487˙500 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-09-01   to  2021-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The presence of organic compounds was essential to the emergence of life on Earth 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. Such compounds may have had several different origins; amongst them the ocean-atmosphere coupled system (the primordial soup theory), or exogenous inputs by meteorites, comets and Interplanetary Dust Particles.

Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is the best known observable analogue of the Early Earth. I recently identified a totally new source of prebiotic material for this system: the upper atmosphere. Nucleobases have been highlighted as components of the solid aerosols analogues produced in a reactor mimicking the chemistry that occurs in the upper atmosphere. The specificity of this external layer is that it receives harsh solar UV radiations enabling the chemical activation of molecular nitrogen N2, and involving a nitrogen rich organic chemistry with high prebiotic interest.

As organic solid aerosols are initiated in the upper atmosphere of Titan, a new question is raised that I will address: what is the evolution of these organic prebiotic seeds when sedimenting down to the surface? Aerosols will indeed undergo the bombardment of charged particles, further UV radiation, and/or coating of condensable species at lower altitudes. I expect possible changes on the aerosols themselves, but also on the budget of the gas phase through emissions of new organic volatiles compounds. The aerosols aging may therefore impact the whole atmospheric system.

An original methodology will be developed to address this novel issue. The successive aging sequences will be experimentally simulated in chemical reactors combining synchrotron and plasma sources. The interpretation of the experimental results will moreover be supported by a modelling of the processes. This complementary approach will enable to decipher the aerosols evolution in laboratory conditions and to extrapolate the impact on Titan atmospheric system.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2020 David Dubois, Nathalie Carrasco, Lora Jovanovic, Ludovic Vettier, Thomas Gautier, Joseph Westlake
Positive ion chemistry in an N2-CH4 plasma discharge: Key precursors to the growth of Titan tholins
published pages: 113437, ISSN: 0019-1035, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2019.113437
Icarus 338 2020-01-29
2019 J. Bourgalais, N. Carrasco, L. Vettier, P. Pernot
Low‐Pressure EUV Photochemical Experiments: Insight on the Ion Chemistry Occurring in Titan\'s Atmosphere
published pages: 9214-9228, ISSN: 2169-9380, DOI: 10.1029/2019ja026953
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 124/11 2020-01-29
2019 L. Selliez, J. Maillard, B. Cherville, T. Gautier, L. Thirkell, B. Gaubicher, I. Schmitz‐Afonso, C. Afonso, C. Briois, N. Carrasco
High resolution mass spectrometry for future space missions: comparative analysis of complex organic matter with LAb‐CosmOrbitrap and LDI‐FTICR
published pages: , ISSN: 0951-4198, DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8645
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 2020-01-29
2019 Christopher P. Rüger, Julien Maillard, Johann Le Maître, Mark Ridgeway, Christopher J. Thompson, Isabelle Schmitz-Afonso, Thomas Gautier, Nathalie Carrasco, Melvin A. Park, Pierre Giusti, Carlos Afonso
Structural Study of Analogues of Titan’s Haze by Trapped Ion Mobility Coupled with a Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Mass Spectrometer
published pages: , ISSN: 1044-0305, DOI: 10.1007/s13361-019-02205-7
Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2019-08-05
2016 S Tigrine, N Carrasco, L Vettier, G Cernogora
A microwave plasma source for VUV atmospheric photochemistry
published pages: 395202, ISSN: 0022-3727, DOI: 10.1088/0022-3727/49/39/395202
Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 49/39 2019-05-27
2018 Julien Maillard, Nathalie Carrasco, Isabelle Schmitz-Afonso, Thomas Gautier, Carlos Afonso
Comparison of soluble and insoluble organic matter in analogues of Titan\'s aerosols
published pages: 185-191, ISSN: 0012-821X, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.05.014
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 495 2019-05-27
2016 Barbara Cunha de Miranda, Gustavo A. Garcia, François Gaie-Levrel, Ahmed Mahjoub, Thomas Gautier, Benjamin Fleury, Laurent Nahon, Pascal Pernot, Nathalie Carrasco
Molecular Isomer Identification of Titan’s Tholins Organic Aerosols by Photoelectron/Photoion Coincidence Spectroscopy Coupled to VUV Synchrotron Radiation
published pages: 6529-6540, ISSN: 1089-5639, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.6b03346
The Journal of Physical Chemistry A 120/33 2019-05-27
2017 Benjamin Fleury, Nathalie Carrasco, Maëva Millan, Ludovic Vettier, Cyril Szopa
Organic chemistry in a CO 2 rich early Earth atmosphere
published pages: 34-42, ISSN: 0012-821X, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.09.026
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 479 2019-05-27
2019 David Dubois, Nathalie Carrasco, Marie Petrucciani, Ludovic Vettier, Sarah Tigrine, Pascal Pernot
In situ investigation of neutrals involved in the formation of Titan tholins
published pages: 182-196, ISSN: 0019-1035, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2018.07.006
Icarus 317 2019-05-27
2017 Chatain, Audrey; Carrasco, Nathalie; Guaitella, Olivier
Experimental simulation of aerosols evolution in Titan’s ionosphere
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
European Planetary Science Congress 2017, Sep 2017, Riga, Latvia. EPSC Abstracts, 11, pp.EPSC2017-594 1 2019-05-27
2017 Hervé Cottin, Julia Michelle Kotler, Daniela Billi, Charles Cockell, René Demets, Pascale Ehrenfreund, Andreas Elsaesser, Louis d’Hendecourt, Jack J. W. A. van Loon, Zita Martins, Silvano Onofri, Richard C. Quinn, Elke Rabbow, Petra Rettberg, Antonio J. Ricco, Klaus Slenzka, Rosa de la Torre, Jean-Pierre de Vera, Frances Westall, Nathalie Carrasco, Aurélien Fresneau, Yuko Kawaguchi, Yoko Kebukawa, Dara Nguyen, Olivier Poch, Kafila Saiagh, Fabien Stalport, Akihiko Yamagishi, Hajime Yano, Benjamin A. Klamm
Space as a Tool for Astrobiology: Review and Recommendations for Experimentations in Earth Orbit and Beyond
published pages: 83-181, ISSN: 0038-6308, DOI: 10.1007/s11214-017-0365-5
Space Science Reviews 209/1-4 2019-05-27
2016 Nathalie Carrasco, François Jomard, Jackie Vigneron, Arnaud Etcheberry, Guy Cernogora
Laboratory analogues simulating titan\'s atmospheric aerosols: Compared chemical compositions of grains and thin films
published pages: 52-57, ISSN: 0032-0633, DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2016.05.006
Planetary and Space Science 128 2019-05-27
2018 Ricardo Arevalo, Laura Selliez, Christelle Briois, Nathalie Carrasco, Laurent Thirkell, Barnabé Cherville, Fabrice Colin, Bertrand Gaubicher, Benjamin Farcy, Xiang Li, Alexander Makarov
An Orbitrap-based laser desorption/ablation mass spectrometer designed for spaceflight
published pages: , ISSN: 0951-4198, DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8244
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 2019-05-27
2016 Thomas Gautier, Isabelle Schmitz-Afonso, David Touboul, Cyril Szopa, Arnaud Buch, Nathalie Carrasco
Development of HPLC-Orbitrap method for identification of N-bearing molecules in complex organic material relevant to planetary environments
published pages: 259-266, ISSN: 0019-1035, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.03.007
Icarus 275 2019-05-27
2017 Lisseth Gavilan, Laurent Remusat, Mathieu Roskosz, Horia Popescu, Nicolas Jaouen, Christophe Sandt, Cornelia Jäger, Thomas Henning, Alexandre Simionovici, Jean Louis Lemaire, Denis Mangin, Nathalie Carrasco
X-Ray-induced Deuterium Enrichment of N-rich Organics in Protoplanetary Disks: An Experimental Investigation Using Synchrotron Light
published pages: 35, ISSN: 1538-4357, DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa6bfc
The Astrophysical Journal 840/1 2019-05-27
2017 Zita Martins, Hervé Cottin, Julia Michelle Kotler, Nathalie Carrasco, Charles S. Cockell, Rosa de la Torre Noetzel, René Demets, Jean-Pierre de Vera, Louis d’Hendecourt, Pascale Ehrenfreund, Andreas Elsaesser, Bernard Foing, Silvano Onofri, Richard Quinn, Elke Rabbow, Petra Rettberg, Antonio J. Ricco, Klaus Slenzka, Fabien Stalport, Inge L. ten Kate, Jack J. W. A. van Loon, Frances Westall
Earth as a Tool for Astrobiology—A European Perspective
published pages: 43-81, ISSN: 0038-6308, DOI: 10.1007/s11214-017-0369-1
Space Science Reviews 209/1-4 2019-05-27
2017 Lisseth Gavilan, Laurent Broch, Nathalie Carrasco, Benjamin Fleury, Ludovic Vettier
Organic Aerosols in the Presence of CO 2 in the Early Earth and Exoplanets: UV–Vis Refractive Indices of Oxidized Tholins
published pages: L5, ISSN: 2041-8213, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8cc4
The Astrophysical Journal 848/1 2019-05-27
2019 Daniel Cordier, Nathalie Carrasco
The floatability of aerosols and wave damping on Titan’s seas
published pages: 315-320, ISSN: 1752-0894, DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0344-4
Nature Geoscience 12/5 2019-06-06
2016 Marietta Morisson, Cyril Szopa, Nathalie Carrasco, Arnaud Buch, Thomas Gautier
Titan\'s organic aerosols: Molecular composition and structure of laboratory analogues inferred from pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis
published pages: 442-454, ISSN: 0019-1035, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.05.038
Icarus 277 2019-05-27
2018 Christophe Mathé, Thomas Gautier, Melissa G. Trainer, Nathalie Carrasco
Detection Opportunity for Aromatic Signature in Titan’s Aerosols in the 4.1–5.3 μ m Range
published pages: L25, ISSN: 2041-8213, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aacf88
The Astrophysical Journal 861/2 2019-05-27
2018 Nathalie Carrasco, Sarah Tigrine, Lisseth Gavilan, Laurent Nahon, Murthy S. Gudipati
The evolution of Titan’s high-altitude aerosols under ultraviolet irradiation
published pages: 489-494, ISSN: 2397-3366, DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0439-7
Nature Astronomy 2/6 2019-05-27
2017 Kensei Kobayashi, Wolf D. Geppert, Nathalie Carrasco, Nils G. Holm, Olivier Mousis, Maria Elisabetta Palumbo, J. Hunter Waite, Naoki Watanabe, Lucy M. Ziurys
Laboratory Studies of Methane and Its Relationship to Prebiotic Chemistry
published pages: 786-812, ISSN: 1531-1074, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2016.1492
Astrobiology 17/8 2019-05-27
2019 Benjamin Fleury, Murthy S. Gudipati, Isabelle Couturier-Tamburelli, Nathalie Carrasco
Photoreactivity of condensed acetylene on Titan aerosols analogues
published pages: 358-366, ISSN: 0019-1035, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2018.11.030
Icarus 321 2019-05-27
2019 L. Selliez, C. Briois, N. Carrasco, L. Thirkell, R. Thissen, M. Ito, F.-R. Orthous-Daunay, G. Chalumeau, F. Colin, H. Cottin, C. Engrand, L. Flandinet, N. Fray, B. Gaubicher, N. Grand, J.-P. Lebreton, A. Makarov, S. Ruocco, C. Szopa, V. Vuitton, P. Zapf
Identification of organic molecules with a laboratory prototype based on the Laser Ablation-CosmOrbitrap
published pages: 42-51, ISSN: 0032-0633, DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2019.03.003
Planetary and Space Science 170 2019-05-27
2019 David Dubois, Nathalie Carrasco, Jérémy Bourgalais, Ludovic Vettier, Ravindra T. Desai, Anne Wellbrock, Andrew J. Coates
Nitrogen-containing Anions and Tholin Growth in Titan’s Ionosphere: Implications for Cassini CAPS-ELS Observations
published pages: L31, ISSN: 2041-8213, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab05e5
The Astrophysical Journal 872/2 2019-04-16
2018 Sarah Tigrine, Nathalie Carrasco, Dusan K. Bozanic, Gustavo A. Garcia, Laurent Nahon
FUV Photoionization of Titan Atmospheric Aerosols
published pages: 164, ISSN: 1538-4357, DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aae4d8
The Astrophysical Journal 867/2 2019-04-14

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