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J. I. Lunine (LPL, The University of Arizona), H. Roe (Dept. of Astronomy, UC Berkeley), G. H. Atkinson (Dept. of Chemistry and OSC, Univ. Arizona)
As planetological measurements use ever-larger telescopes and more sensitive detectors, the requirement to understand spectroscopic parameters for very weak lines at extreme conditions becomes more imperative. In the case of Saturn's moon Titan, a major target of the Cassini-Huygens mission, observations of the surface and atmosphere have been obtained at two narrow wavelengths corresponding to windows in the methane absorption spectrum. Because methane absorption is not zero in those windows, precise absorption data as a function of temperature and pressure, over very long pathlengths approaching those in the Titan atmosphere, are required. The advent of new, widely tunable solid-state lasers in the 1.5-2.4 microns wavelength range has made it feasible to extend quantitative intracavity laser spectroscopic (ILS) measurements into the near infrared, thereby providing laboratory access to previously inaccessible molecular transitions and hence addressing problems in planetological spectroscopy. A near-IR ILS system is being designed and will be used to expand the type and quality of quantitative data (collisional broadening parameters and absolute absorption intensities) for weak, near-infrared absorption features of methane and (collision-induced) nitrogen, which can be applied to spectroscopic observations of Titan in the near-IR.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.