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The Cassini UVIS Stellar Probe of the Titan Atmosphere

The Cassini UVIS Stellar Probe of the Titan Atmosphere

Publication date: 14 May 2005

Authors: Shemansky, D.E., et al.

Journal: Science
Volume: 308
Issue: 5724
Page: 978-982
Year: 2005

Copyright: Science Magazine

The Cassini Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (UVIS) observed the extinction of photons from two stars by the atmosphere of Titan during the Titan flyby. Six species were identified and measured: methane, acetylene, ethylene, ethane, diacetylene, and hydrogen cyanide. The observations cover altitudes from 450 to 1600 kilometers above the surface. A mesopause is inferred from extraction of the temperature structure of methane, located at 615 km with a temperature minimum of 114 kelvin. The asymptotic kinetic temperature at the top of the atmosphere determined from this experiment is 151 kelvin. The higher order hydrocarbons and hydrogen cyanide peak sharply in abundance and are undetectable below altitudes ranging from 750 to 600 km, leaving methane as the only identifiable carbonaceous molecule in this experiment below 600 km.

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