DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 22. Titan
Oral, Chair(s): M.E. Brown and A. Coustenis, Wednesday, October 9, 2002, 10:10-10:30am and 11:00am-12:30pm, Ballroom

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[22.10] Clouds at the South Pole of Titan

M.E. Brown, A.H. Bouchez (Caltech), C.A. Griffith (LPL)

Recent spectroscopic studies have shown compelling evidence for the transient existence of tropospheric clouds on Titan, but sporadic imaging since 1995 has yielded no clues regarding the location dynamics or even existence of these clouds. We present Keck adaptive optics images and spectra of Titan which unambiguously show transient cloud features on Titan. We find on two separate occurs that clouds have appeared near the south pole at altitudes of 16 +/- 5 km, in the middle of Titan's troposphere. The existence of these clouds demonstrates convincingly the importance of condensation and localized moist convection in Titan's atmosphere, and their location near the current point of maximum insolation suggests that methane cloud formation is seasonally controlled by small variations in surface temperature and will move from the south to the north pole on a 15 year time scale.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.