The evolution of Titan's detached haze layer near equinox in 2009
Publication date: 31 Mar 2011
Authors: West, R.A., et al.
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Copyright: American Geophysical Union
Saturn's moon Titan has a massive atmosphere laden with layers of photochemical haze. We report a recent dramatic change in the vertical structure of this haze, with a persistent 'detached' layer dropping in altitude from over 500 km to only 380 km between 2007 and 2010. The detached haze layer appears to be a well-defined tracer for Titan's meridional stratospheric circulation, models of which suggest that a pole-to-pole meridional cell weakens during equinox as solar heating becomes more symmetric. These measurements connect the Cassini observations with those made by Voyager almost one seasonal cycle earlier. They place detailed constraints on the seasonal circulation, on the sources of photochemical aerosols, on the microphysical processes and on the complex interplay of these components.