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S.G. Gibbard, B. Macintosh, C.E. Max (Lawrence Livermore National Lab), H. Roe, I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley), E.F. Young (Southwest Research Institute, Boulder), C.P. McKay (NASA Ames)
Saturn's largest moon Titan is the only satellite in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere. Photolysis of methane creates a hydrocarbon haze in Titan's atmosphere that is opaque to visible light. The new adaptive optics system on the 10-meter W.M. Keck Telescope enables us to observe Titan with a resolution of 0.04 arcseconds, or 20 resolution elements across the disk. By observing at near-infrared wavelengths that are methane band windows, we can see through Titan's hydrocarbon haze to the surface beneath. We will report on adaptive optics images of Titan taken in 1999, including broadband engineering images taken in February, August, and September, and broadband K and narrowband J and H band images taken in October. The narrowband filters have been chosen to selectively probe Titan's surface or atmosphere. Using this data combined with atmospheric modeling, we are able to determine surface Titan's surface albedo and properties of its hydrocarbon haze layer.
This research was supported in part by the STC Program of the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. AST-9876783, and in part under the auspices of the US Department of Energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Univ. of Calif. under contract No. W-7405-Eng-48.