Computational and experimental studies of solids in the ammonia-water system
This thesis reports the results of first-principles computational studies of thirteen crystalline structures in the H2O-NH3 system. This includes eight low- and highpressure polymorphs of pure water ice, two polymorphs of solid ammonia, and three low-pressure stoichiometric ammonia hydrates. These simulations have been used to determine the athermal equation of state (EoS) of each phase. Where empirical data was lacking, experiments have been undertaken. Hence, this thesis also reports the results of time-of-flight neutron scattering studies of deuterated ammonia dihydrate powders down to 4 K, and up to a maximum pressure of 8.6 GPa. In addition, I have developed a flexible and accurate planetary model that can be used to calculate the triaxial shape and gravitational field of any object, regardless of size or composition, given an assumed mineralogical constitution and provided the EoS of said minerals are known. The EoS parameters found in this work have therefore been used to model the structure and thermal evolution of icy moons orbiting Saturn in anticipation of the Cassini spacecraft arriving at Saturn in mid-2004. Models of Rhea, Saturn’s second largest moon, suggest that its volatile component is likely to contain > 3 weight percent ammonia, but that one is unlikely to be able to constrain the bulk chemistry of the ice mantle from Cassini flyby data.