37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 45 Titan's Atmosphere
Poster, Wednesday, September 7, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Recital Room

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[45.31] High Altitude, Wavelength-dependent Extinction in Titan's Atmosphere from the 2003 Nov. 14 Occultation

A. Zalucha, J. L. Elliot (MIT), A. Fitzsimmons (Queen's University Belfast), V. Dhillon (Sheffield University), T. Marsh (Warwick University), H. B. Hammel (Space Science Institute), P. Irwin (Oxford University), J. Thomas-Osip (Las Campanas), F. Taylor (Oxford University)

A stellar occultation by Titan on 2003 Nov. 14 was observed from La Palma Observatory (Fitzsimmons et al., RAS Time Domain Astrophysics, 2004) using ULTRACAM with three Sloan filters: u', g', and i' (350, 480, and 770 nm, respectively; Dhillon and Marsh, NewAR, 25, 91, 2001). The latitudes probed during immersion and emersion were 1.1S and 1.8N, respectively. A central flash was seen in only the i' filter, indicating wavelength-dependent atmospheric extinction. The light curves were inverted to obtain six lower-limit temperature profiles between 360 and 500 km (30 and 2 microbar) altitude. The i' profiles agreed with the model of Yelle (ApJ, 383, 380, 1991) above 415 km (10 microbar). The temperature profiles are expected to be independent of wavelength; instead, it is found that the profiles obtained at different wavelengths diverged as altitude decreases, which implies significant extinction in the light curves. The onset of extinction occurred between 550 and 600 km (0.9 and 0.4 microbar) altitude with optical depth increasing below this height. This is ~ 50-100 km higher than the detached haze layer seen by Cassini in 2004 (Porco et al., Nature, 434, 159, 2005). No discrete haze layers have yet been resolved in our data. Applying the model used by Elliot and Young (AJ, 103, 991,1992) gives the altitudes of optical depth equal to unity: 382 ± 5 km and 436 ± 5 km (u' immersion and emersion); 406 ± 4 km and 403 ± 10 km (g' immersion and emersion); and 345 ± 5 km and 326 ± 3 km (i' immersion and emersion). Another method shows that the optical depth behaved as a power law in wavelength, with exponent approximately -3. We gratefully acknowledge support from NSF grant AST-0073447 and NASA grant NNG04GF25G

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: azalucha@mit.edu

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