Nitrogen in the Stratosphere of Titan from Cassini CIRS Infrared Spectroscopy

  • Conor A. Nixon
  • Nicholas A. Teanby
  • Carrie M. Anderson
  • Sandrine Vinatier
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings book series (ASSSP, volume 35)

Abstract

In this chapter we describe the remote sensing measurement of nitrogen-bearing species in Titan’s atmosphere by the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) on the Cassini spacecraft. This instrument, which detects the thermal infrared spectrum from 10 to 1,500 cm− 1 (1,000–7 \(\mu\)m) is sensitive to vibrational and rotational emissions of gases and condensates in Titan’s stratosphere and lower mesosphere, permitting the measurement of ambient temperature and the abundances of gases and particulates. Three N-bearing species are firmly detected: HCN, HC3N and C2N2, and their vertical and latitudinal distributions have been mapped. In addition, ices of HC3N and possibly C4N2 are also seen in the far-infrared spectrum at high latitudes during the northern winter. The HC15N isotopologue has been measured, permitting the inference of the 14N/15N in this species, which differs markedly (lower) than in the bulk nitrogen reservoir (N2). We also describe the search in the CIRS spectrum, and inferred upper limits, for NH3 and CH3CN. CIRS is now observing seasonal transition on Titan and the gas abundance distributions are changing accordingly, acting as tracers of the changing atmospheric circulation. The prospects for further CIRS science in the remaining 5 years of the Cassini mission are discussed.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Conor A. Nixon
    • 1
  • Nicholas A. Teanby
    • 2
  • Carrie M. Anderson
    • 3
  • Sandrine Vinatier
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AstronomyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Planetary Systems LaboratoryNASA Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA
  4. 4.LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRSMeudon CedexFrance

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