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Winds on Titan from ground-based tracking of the Huygens probe

Winds on Titan from ground-based tracking of the Huygens probe

Publication date: 21 July 2006

Authors: Folkner, W. M. et al.

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
Volume: 111
Issue: E7
Year: 2006

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

Large radio telescopes on Earth tracked the radio signal transmitted by the Huygens probe during its mission at Titan. Frequency measurements were conducted as a part of the Huygens Doppler Wind Experiment (DWE) in order to derive the velocity of the probe in the direction to Earth. The DWE instrumentation on board Huygens consisted of an ultrastable oscillator which maintained the high Doppler stability required for a determination of probe horizontal motion during the atmospheric descent. A vertical profile of the zonal wind velocity in Titan's atmosphere was constructed from the Doppler data under the plausible assumption of generally small meridional wind, as validated by tracked images from the Huygens Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR). We report here on improved results based on data with higher temporal resolution than that presented in the preliminary analysis by Bird et al. (2005), corroborating the first in situ measurement of Titan's atmospheric superrotation and a region of strong vertical shear reversal within the lower stratosphere. We also present the first high-resolution display and interpretation of the winds near the surface and planetary boundary layer.

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