36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 6 Titan I: Surface, Troposphere, etc.
Oral, Monday, November 8, 2004, 3:30-6:00pm, Clark

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[6.07] Discovery of temperate latitude clouds on Titan

H.G. Roe, E.L. Schaller, M.E. Brown (Caltech), C.A. Trujillo (Gemini Observatory), A.H. Bouchez (W.M. Keck Observatory)

In December 2001 Gemini and Keck adaptive optics (AO) imaging provided the first direct detection of rapidly varying clouds in Titan's atmosphere, thus overturning the traditional view of Titan's atmosphere as a quiescent place lacking in interesting dynamics. We found these clouds in Titan's south polar region near the start of southern summer and have regularly observed south polar clouds since that time. Since 2001 we have only rarely seen Titan without cloud activity in the south polar region. All of these numerous clouds can be explained by the formation hypothesis of Brown et al. (2002), whereby clouds are formed in convective cells driven by seasonal solar heating of the polar surface and lower atmosphere. We report here a new class of cloud, discovered at temperate latitude, that cannot be explained by the seasonal insolation hypothesis and we suggest possible explanations. The observations reported here were obtained at the Gemini and Keck Observatories.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.