37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 67 Laboratory Research
Oral, Friday, September 9, 2005, 2:00-3:30pm, Law LG19

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[67.05] VUV Absorption Spectroscopy of Planetary Molecules at Low Temperature

A. Jolly, Y. Benilan, T. Ferradaz, N. Fray, M. Schwell (LISA, Univi. Paris 12, France)

A critical review of the available absorption coefficient in the vacuum ultraviolet domain (100-200 nm) has lead us to undertake new measurements at the Berlin synchrotron facility (BESSY). Many of the molecules detected in planetary atmospheres and in particular those which need to be synthesized in the laboratory, have never been measured at low temperature. The first molecules that we have studied are HCN, HC3N and C2N2. New absorption coefficients have been obtained including first spectra at low temperature (220 K). The effect of the temperature on the spectra can then be discussed in view of the application to the much colder atmosphere of Titan. The nitriles studied here play an important role in the chemistry taking place in Titan's atmosphere and are believed to be responsible for the formation of Titan's aerosols. From our measurements, we have calculated the photodissociation rates for each molecule which are essential to include in any photochemical model. This is true for Titan but also for cometary and interstellar medium models. To describe the formation of a solid phase, the models also need to include photodissociation rates for larger molecules which have not been detected yet. This will now be possible for HC5N since the first spectra of this molecule has been obtained by our team. Furthermore, the first stellar occultation measurement of Titan's atmosphere by the UV spectrometer (UVIS) on board the CASSINI spacecraft has permitted the detection of species not observed before in this wavelength domain. But it has also shown a lack of experimental data in this domain. So far, the model is not able to reproduce the observed spectral feature. C4H2 is the molecule that should explain some of the observed feature but absolute cross sections are missing. We will present our latest experimental measurements on this molecule.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.