DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 55. Titan II
Oral, Chairs: R. Lorenz, C. Griffith, Saturday, December 1, 2001, 11:05am-12:35pm, Regency GH

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[55.08] Changes in Titan's upper atmosphere during solar eclipses

I.C.F. Mueller-Wodarg (University College London and Boston University), R.V. Yelle (Northern Arizona University), M. Mendillo (Boston University), A.D. Aylward (University College London)

Solar eclipses occur on Titan when it passes into the shadow of Saturn. This happens once per Titan day under conditions of +/- 3 deg subsolar latitude, near equinox. On its orbit,Titan spends up to 6 hours inside the shadow cast by Saturn. Using a recently developed 3-dimensional General Circulation Model (GCM) of Titan's upper atmosphere we simulate the changes in neutral gas temperature, dynamics and composition which occur during solar eclipses on Titan. We predict a sharp decrease of thermospheric temperature, which generates pressure gradients driving considerable horizontal and vertical winds. These, in turn, transport gases vertically and horizontally, causing changes in mean molecular mass. We also estimate the changes which may occur in the ionosphere. These effects could be observable in an extended mission of the Cassini spacecraft, from year 2009 onwards, when Titan approaches equinox.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: i.mueller-wodarg@ucl.ac.uk

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