PROTOSOLAR AMMONIA AS THE UNIQUE SOURCE OF TITAN’s NITROGEN [abstract]
The origin of Titan’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere is thought to be ammonia ice, but this has not yet been confirmed. Furthermore, it is uncertain whether the building blocks of Titan formed within the Saturnian subnebula or in the colder protosolar nebula (PSN). Recent measurements of the nitrogen isotope ratio in cometary ammonia, combined with evolutionary constraints on the nitrogen isotopes in Titan’s atmosphere provide firm evidence that the nitrogen in Titan’s atmosphere must have originated as ammonia ice formed in the PSN under conditions similar to that of cometary formation. This result has important implications for the projected D/H ratio in cometary methane, nitrogen isotopic fractionation in the PSN and the source of nitrogen for Earth’s atmosphere.