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Tholin-flavored layer cake on Titan

29 Mar 2021, 18:06 UTC
Tholin-flavored layer cake on Titan
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Title: Physical-based scattering model for Titan: Integrating Cassini microwave data (active and passive)Authors: F. Grings, M. Franco, M.G. Spagnuolo, M.A. Janssen, R. LorenzFirst Author’s Institution: Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio (UBA-CONICET), Ciudad Universitaria, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaStatus: Published in Icarus [closed access]
Ingredients for understanding TitanEven after the Cassini mission spent 13 years orbiting Saturn and performing dozens of flybys of its largest moon, Titan, many questions remain. Part of the reason Titan has been reluctant to share its secrets is the great thickness of its atmosphere, which blocks most wavelengths of light that the human eye can see. Fortunately, Cassini was equipped with a radar instrument specifically to deal with this issue! The longer wavelengths transmitted and received by this device pierced Titan’s deep haze and revealed dramatic landforms not unlike those on Earth: mountains, lakes, river valleys, dunes, and vast plains—all likely composed of various ices, liquid hydrocarbons, and exotic organic compounds like tholins, kept at a crisp 95 Kelvin (-289 °F or -187 °C). Despite radar’s great capabilities for observing Titan, making a precise interpretation of the data is often challenging. At the microwave wavelengths of the Cassini radar instrument (λ ~ 2.2 cm), the measured ...

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