Monday, May 02, 2005

New Titan Image: Complex ‘Anti-greenhouse’

In addition to all these wonderful images of Titan surface ;-D, CICLOPS has also released this view of Titan's atmosphere in color. This color view spectacularly shows the high altitude hazes (in blue) and the complex structure therein, and the orange haze below. This image was taken shortly after the T4 flyby on March 31. The images used for this color view were taken shortly before the wide-angle camera images used in a movie released earlier. The hazes seen here are made mostly of hydrocarbons derived from photochemically-altered methane, like acetylene, benzene, and ethane. These particles preferentially scatter light at shorter wavelengths like blue and ultraviolet, making them appear blue here.

Lower down, from the caption:
Lower down in the atmosphere, the haze turns into a globe-enshrouding smog of complex organic molecules. This thick, orange-colored haze absorbs visible sunlight, allowing only perhaps 10 percent of the incident light to reach the surface. The thick haze also is inefficient at holding in and then re-radiating infrared (thermal) energy back down to the surface. Thus, despite the fact that Titan has a thicker atmosphere than Earth, the thick global haze causes the greenhouse effect there to be somewhat weaker than it is on Earth.
This color view was taken from a distance of 9,500 km and has a resolution of 400 meters/pixel.


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