DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 10. Titan I
Oral, Chairs: C. A. Griffith and D. B. Curtis, Wednesday, September 3, 2003, 10:30am-12:00noon, DeAnza I-II

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[10.07] Titan's Stratospheric Zonal Winds

A. H. Bouchez, M. E. Brown (Caltech), M. Troy (J.P.L.), R. S. Burruss (Palomar Observatory), R. G. Dekany (Palomar Optical Observatories), R. A. West (J.P.L.)

On 20 December 2001, Titan occulted a faint binary star, an event which proved ideally suited to resolved imaging with the Palomar adaptive optics system. Multiple refracted stellar images were visible on Titan's limb throughout both events, and precise astrometry of these has allowed us to map the oblateness of Titan's atmosphere at the millibar level over the entire satellite. We find that Titan's stratospheric zonal wind field near northern winter solstice exhibits strong but asymmetric high-latitude jets, with peak wind speeds of 230±20 m s-1 at 60N and 160±40 m s-1 at 40S. The northern jet is narrowly confined in latitude, driven by the temperature gradient at the edge of the polar night. Consistent with previous observations and models, zonal wind speeds near the equator are a more moderate 110± 40 m s-1. The strong winter jet may play an important role in confining the products of polar night chemistry, analogously to that of the Earth. Unfortunately, the direction of the winds cannot be determined from these observations.

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

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.