Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Press Release: First measurement of Titan’s winds from Huygens

Following a post from a few weeks ago, the ESA is reporting in a press release on the successful retrieval of the Doppler Wind Experiment data from ground-based radio telescopes. The data was to be retrieved by both ground-based observers and Cassini via Channel A, one of two nearly redundant radio frequencies used by Huygens to transmit its once-in-a-lifetime data. Unfortunately, due to an apparent programming error, Channel A was not retrieved by Cassini, but was retrieved by the ground-based observers. Combined with the precision VLBI measurements of Huygens position, Huygens scientists are beginning to deconvolve a wind profile for Huygens during its descent. As mentioned earlier, the winds were very low near the surface (also shown in the DISR images from the relative lack of lateral movement) and increased steadily to a height of 60 km (10 km above the tropopause). Additionally, this press release mentions that the winds were highest at an altitude of 120 km with wind speeds clocked at around 120 meters/second (compared to 40-50 meters/second at an altitude of 60 km). Finally the press release confirms that the winds were quite choppy high up (something Jonathan Lunine alluded to in his talk a few weeks ago).


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