DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 53. Titan I
Oral, Chair: E. Lellouch, Saturday, December 1, 2001, 9:40-10:40am, Regency GH

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[53.04] Near-Infrared Imaging of Titan's Surface and Tropospheric Clouds

A.H. Bouchez, M.E. Brown (Caltech), C.R. Neyman (Trex Enterprises), M. Troy (JPL), R.G. Dekany (Caltech), C.A. Griffith (Northern Arizona U.)

Using the AEOS 3.6~m telescope and adaptive optics system, we have acquired images of Titan through narrow-band filters between 890~nm and 1~\mum, on 6 nights between 6~November and 17~December~2000. At wavelengths of high methane opacity (890~nm and 1~\mum), images record only light scattered off Titan's stratospheric haze, which appears limb-brightened and zonally symmetric. Filters at 960 and 950~nm probe progressively deeper levels of Titan's atmosphere including light scattered in the troposphere. These tropospheric images reveal high contrast, zonally asymmetric features at high southern latitudes, which we interpret to be extensive regions of condensate clouds. These features are present on all 6 nights of observation, though the limited spatial resolution does not allow the lifetimes or motions of individual cloud masses to be determined with certainty. At 940~nm, between methane bands, images clearly include the contribution of these cloud masses, as well as surface albedo patterns. We will compare these results to those of previous imaging and spectroscopic studies of Titan's clouds and surface.

The US Air Force provided the telescope time, on-site support and 80% of the research funds for this AFOSR and NSF jointly sponsored research under grant number NSF AST-0088643.

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