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Heavy negative ions in Titan's ionosphere: altitude and latitude dependence

Coates, Andrew J. and Wellbrock, Anne and Lewis, Gethyn R. and Jones, Geraint H. and Young, D.T. and Crary, F.J. and Waite, J.H. (2009) Heavy negative ions in Titan's ionosphere: altitude and latitude dependence. Planetary and Space Science 57 (14-15), pp. 1866-1871. ISSN 0032-0633.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2009.05.009

Abstract

One of the unexpected results of the Cassini mission was the discovery of negative ions at altitudes between 950 and 1400 km in Titan's ionosphere with masses up to 10,000 amu/q [Coates, A.J., Crary, F.J., Lewis, G.R., Young, D.T., Waite Jr., J.H., Sittler Jr., E.C., 2007. Discovery of heavy negative ions in Titan's ionosphere. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L22103, doi:10.1029/2007GL030978; Waite Jr., J.H., Young, D. T., Coates, A. J., Crary, F. J., Magee, B. A., Mandt, K. E., Westlake, J. H., 2008. The Source of Heavy Organics and Aerosols in Titan's Atmosphere, submitted to Organic Matter in Space, Proceedings IAU Symposium no. 251]. These ions are detected at low altitudes during Cassini's closest Titan encounters by the Cassini plasma spectrometer (CAPS) electron spectrometer. This result is important as it is indicative of complex hydrocarbon and nitrile chemical processes at work in Titan's high atmosphere. They may play a role in haze formation and ultimately in the formation of heavy particles (tholins), which fall through Titan's atmosphere and build up on the surface. During Cassini's prime mission negative ions were observed on 23 Titan encounters, including 7 in addition to those reported by Coates et al. [Coates, A.J., Crary, F.J., Lewis, G.R., Young, D.T., Waite Jr., J.H., Sittler Jr., E.C., 2007. Discovery of heavy negative ions in Titan's ionosphere. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L22103, doi:10.1029/2007GL030978]. Here, we also examine the altitude and latitude dependence of the high-mass negative ions observed in Titan's ionosphere, and we examine the implications of these results. We find that the maximum negative ion mass is higher at low altitude and at high latitudes. We also find a weaker dependence of the maximum mass on solar zenith angle.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Ionosphere, loss, negative ions, production Tholins, Titan
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2011 13:02
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:21
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/3882

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