DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 34. Titan
Poster, Chair(s): , Thursday, October 10, 2002, 4:00-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[34.03] Sputtering of Nitrogen from Titan by the interaction of Saturn's magnetospheric plasma with Titan's thermosphere

M. Michael, R.E. Johnson (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 22904), J.G. Luhmann (Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley)

Titan's dense, mainly molecular nitrogen atmosphere is a significant source of the neutrals in Saturn's magnetosphere. As Titan does not posses an intrinsic magnetic field, energetic Kronian magnetospheric ions may be able to penetrate Titan's atmospheric exobase and sputter atoms and molecules from the atmosphere of Titan. The sputtering of Nitrogen from Titan atmosphere by the corotating Nitrogen ions and by photodissociation had been addressed earlier (Lammer and Bauer, 1993, Shematovich et al., 2001). Penetration of pickup Nitrogen and C2H5+ ions of energy less than 1.25 keV is described here using a Monte Carlo model. The interaction of these ions with the atmospheric neutrals can lead directly or indirectly to the production of fast neutrals that collide with other atmospheric neutrals producing heating and ejection of atoms and molecules. Here results from Brecht et al (2000) are used to estimate the net flux and energy spectra of the co-rotating and pick-up ions onto the exobase while the earlier models used a simplified description of the co-rotating plasma flow onto the exobase. The relative importance of the low energy and energetic plasma particles are considered in the present study.

Brecht, S.H., J.G. Luhman, and D.J. Larson, Simulation of the saturnian magnetospheric interaction, 105, 13119, 2000

Lammer, H., and S.J. Bauer, Atmospheric Mass Loss from Titan by Sputtering, Plant. Space Sci., 41, 657, 1993.

Shematovich V.I., Tully C., and Johnson R.E., Suprathermal nitrogen atoms and molecules in Titan's corona, Adv. Space Res., 27, 1875, 2001.

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