Titan, the world of thunder

17. July 2020.

’Titan, the world of thunder’
Guest: Dr Saša Dujko

’The atmosphere of Titan is an ideal environment where we are able to see how plasma physics and astrobiology interact’, says Dr Saša Dujko of the Institute of Physics, Belgrade in the fourth episode of the scientific popular video series ’Garden of Physics’. The episode is dedicated to the largest Saturn’s satellite, Titan, its significance to astrobiological research and electrical discharge in the atmosphere, the topical research which is being carried out at the Institute.

Titan is the world which may be hiding the answers to the origin of life. In the 1950s, the renowned Miller–Urey experiment made the first ‘simulation’ of hypothetical conditions for the origin of life. Dr Dujko explains that in the gaseous mixture electrical sparks were shot in order to study the synthesis of organic molecules, first and foremost amino acids, which happens naturally on Titan. Organic molecules, which Carl Sagan called tholins, are formed in the atmosphere of this satellite.

In the last several years, particular attention has been dedicated to the study of atmospheric pressure discharges at the Solid State Physics Laboratory of the Institute of Physics, Belgrade, and as Dr Dujko states, special focus is put on Titan. ’The key goal of our research was to try to unravel a mystery which we did not solve in the Cassini–Huygens mission – do electric lightings exist in the atmosphere of Titan?’ We have calculated the critical fields for the occurrence of streamer discharges and the conditions necessary for the occurrence of electric lightning in the atmosphere “, explains Dr Dujko.

Realized in cooperation with the portal ’Science Through Stories’, each episode of ’The Garden of Physics’ is dedicated to one of the fundamental topics of modern science, whether it is the greatest secrets of our times or research indicating unexpected horizons in the perception of the world. New episodes are aired every Friday online and they are available on webpages of the Institute of Physics, Belgrade and the portal „Science Through Stories“, as well as on You are welcome to join us.

Authors: Marija Đurić and Slobodan Bubnjević
Scenario: ’Science Through Stories’
Camera/drone: Zoran Veljanoski, Bojan Živojinović (Twotech Solutions)
Production associate: Jovana Nikolić
Directing and editing: Bojan Živojinović

Produced by: Insitute of Physics, Belgrade, 2020