37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 51 Titan II
Oral, Thursday, September 8, 2005, 2:00-3:50pm, Music Concert Hall

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[51.02] Energy Sources for Titan's Upper Atmosphere

R. V. Yelle, V. Vuitton (University of Arizona), I. Mueller-Wodarg, M. Galand (Imperial College)

The primary source of energy, ionization and dissociation for Titan's upper atmosphere has been a subject of debate for decades. The identity and characteristics of the energy source is critical because, among other things, it determines the dissociation rate of molecular nitrogen and thereby influences the chemistry of the entire atmosphere and surface. Additionally, the nature of the energy source will affect the formation of the ionosphere and the heating rates of electrons, ions and neutrals in the upper atmosphere. The nature of the energy source is also critical for proper design and interpretation of laboratory simulations of Tiitan's chemistry. Most discussions of this question have focused on the roles of solar EUV radiation and precipitation of energetic electrons from Saturn's magnetosphere. Another potential energy source is precipitation of energetic ions from the magnetosphere. We examine all 3 sources, estimate their magnitudes under various conditions, and delineate their characteristics and effects on the composition of Titan's atmosphere.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.