Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Study of Titan's methane cycle
by Penteado, Paulo Fernando, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 122; 3356413
Abstract (Summary)

We developed radiative transfer models to reproduce Titan’s visible and near infrared spectra, to determine the effects of the haze, and retrieve the methane abundances during Titan’s current southern summer. With ground-based high resolution spectra of CH3D absorption at 1.6 μm, we measured the global CH3D abundance. Combined with observations of 8.6 μm emission of CH3D and CH4 that indicate their relative abundances, we thus determined the global CH4 abundance. We expanded on these ground-based measurements, with improved radiative transfer models based on the Huygens DISR models, and spectra which resolve the spatial variation of the CH3D lines. The profiles of CH3D thus obtained revealed that the methane abundance on the lowest 10 km of Titan’s atmosphere does not vary by more than 20% over 32°S-32°N. With the extensive coverage of Cassini VIMS observations at 0.35-1.6 μm, we determined the latitudinal variation of the methane at 20-50 km and of the haze. We find an ambiguity between the methane and haze abundances, so their gradients become coupled. At the lower limit of the methane gradient, the spectral variation observed can be reproduced with no methane change, and a haze density increase of 60% between 20°S and 10°S. The largest methane variation allowed by the data, derived assuming no haze variation with latitude, is a drop of 60% over latitudes 27°S to 19°N. Our analysis indicates that the latitudinal variations in Titan’s visible to near-IR albedo, the North/South Asymmetry, result primarily from variations in the thickness of the haze above 80 km altitude. The range of methane latitudinal variations allowed between 27°S to 19°N indicates temperature variations of no more than 1.5 K at 20-30 km, altitudes where the Huygens profile is saturated.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Griffith, Caitlin A.
Commitee: Brown, Robert H., Kursinski, E. Robert, Tomasko, Martin G., Yelle, Roger
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Planetary Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Astronomy, Atmospheric sciences, Remote sensing
Keywords: Methane, Planetary atmospheres, Radiative transfer, Titan, VIMS
Publication Number: 3356413
ISBN: 978-1-109-16734-4
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