36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 6 Titan I: Surface, Troposphere, etc.
Oral, Monday, November 8, 2004, 3:30-6:00pm, Clark

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[6.09] Continuous Monitoring of Titan for Large Cloud Outbursts

E.L. Schaller, M.E. Brown (Caltech), A.H. Bouchez (Keck Observatory), H.G. Roe (Caltech), C.A. Trujillo (Gemini Observatory)

Cloud formation and evolution in the atmosphere of Titan is currently not well understood. High-resolution images from large telescopes or from the Cassini spacecraft are necessary for direct detection of Titanís clouds. However, understanding the frequency of cloud formation and timescales of cloud persistence requires the type of continuous monitoring that is not possible on these large over-subscribed telescopes or from infrequent Cassini flybys of Titan.

We have developed a technique to monitor Titan daily for the presence of large cloud outbursts using a small telescope completely dedicated to this project. We present the results of five months of observations during the 2003-2004 Titan season including timescales of large cloud formation and dissipation. We also present Keck and Gemini images that show the evolution of a large cloud outburst at the south pole of Titan. This event is clearly recorded by the small telescope monitoring project. This project is continuing throughout the Cassini mission which will enable us to place the Cassini observations into the broader context of the full range of weather on Titan.


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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.