DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 62. Laboratory Studies
Oral, Chairs: R. Wu, R. Hudson, Saturday, December 1, 2001, 4:40-5:50pm, Regency GH

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[62.06] Low Temperature Reflectance Spectra of Titan Tholins

T.L. Roush (NASA Ames Research Center), J.B. Dalton (NRC/NASA Ames)

Compositional interpretation of remotely obtained reflectance spectra of outer solar system surfaces is achieved by a variety of methods. These include matching spectral curves, matching spectral features, quantitative spectral interpretation, and theoretical modeling of spectra (e.g. Gaffey et al. Asteroids II, 1989). All of these approaches rely upon laboratory measurements of one kind or another. The bulk of these laboratory measurements are obtained with the sample of interest at ambient temperatures and pressures. However, surface temperatures of planets, satellites, and asteroids in the outer solar system are significantly cooler than ambient laboratory conditions on Earth. The infrared spectra of many materials change as a function of temperature. As has been recently demonstrated (Lucey et al., Icarus, in press, and references therein) it is important to assess what effects colder temperatures have on spectral properties and hence, compositional interpretations. Titan tholin is a solid residue created by energetic processing of H-, C-, and N-bearing gases (Khare et al. JGR, 1987). Such residues can also be created by energetic processing if the gases are condensed into ices (e.g. Khare et al. Icarus, 1993). Titan tholin has been suggested as a coloring agent for several surfaces in the outer solar system (Wilson et al. Icarus, 1994, Cruikshank et al. Icarus, 1998). Here we report laboratory measurements of Titan tholin at a temperature of 100 K and compare these to measurements of the same sample near room temperature. At low temperature the absorption features beyond 1 micrometer narrow slightly. At wavelengths greater than ~0.8 micrometer the overall reflectance of the sample decreases slightly making the sample less red at low temperatures. We will discuss the implications of the laboratory measurements for interpretation of cold outer solar system surfaces.

This research is supported by NASA's Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program.

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