Query : 2022A&A...666A.140R

2022A&A...666A.140R - Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 666A, 140 (2022/10-1)

Analysis of four solar occultations by Titan's atmosphere with the infrared channel of the VIMS instrument: Haze, CH4, CH3D, and CO vertical profiles.


Abstract (from CDS):

Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, has a dense atmosphere mainly composed of nitrogen, methane at a percent level, and minor species. It is also covered by a thick and global photochemical organic haze. In the last two decades, the observations made by the Cassini orbiter and the Huygens probe have greatly improved our knowledge of Titan's system. The surface, haze, clouds, and chemical species can be studied and characterised with several instruments simultaneously. On the other hand, some compounds of its climatic cycle remain poorly known. This is clearly the case of the methane cycle, which is, however, a critical component of Titan's climate and of its evolution. We reanalysed four solar occultations by Titan's atmosphere observed with the infrared part of the Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument. These observations were already analysed, but here we used significantly improved methane spectroscopic data. We retrieved the haze properties (not treated previously) and the mixing ratios of methane, deuterated methane, and CO in the stratosphere and in the low mesosphere. The methane mixing ratio in the stratosphere is much lower (about 1.1%) than expected from Huygens measurements (about 1.4 to 1.5%). This is consistent with previous results obtained with other instruments. However, features in the methane vertical profiles clearly demonstrate that there are interactions between the methane distribution and the atmosphere circulation. We also retrieved the haze extinction profiles and the haze spectral behaviour. We find that aerosols are aggregates with a fractal dimension of Df ≃ 2.3 ± 0.1, rather than Df ≃ 2 as previously thought. Our analysis also reveals noticeable changes in their size distribution and their morphology with altitude and time. These changes are also clearly connected to the atmosphere circulation and concerns the whole stratosphere and the transition between the main and the detached haze layers. We finally display the vertical profiles of CH3D and CO for the four observations. Although the latter retrievals have large error bars due to noisy data, we could derive values in agreement with other works.

Abstract Copyright: © P. Rannou et al. 2022

Journal keyword(s): planets and satellites: atmospheres - planets and satellites: composition

VizieR on-line data: <Available at CDS (J/A+A/666/A140): et*.dat eslt*,dat xch4*>

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