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Dissipation of Titan’s south polar clouds

By Emily L. Schaller, Michael E. Brown, Henry G. Roe, Antonin H. Bouchez and Chadwick A. Trujillo


Nearly all adaptive optics images of Titan taken between December 2001 and November 2004 showed tropospheric clouds located within 30° of the south pole. We report here on a dissipation of Titan's south polar clouds observed in twenty-nine Keck and Gemini images taken between December 2004 and April 2005. The near complete lack of south polar cloud activity during this time, and subsequent resurgence months later at generally higher latitudes, may be the beginning of seasonal change in Titan's weather. The ∼5 month decrease in cloud activity may also have been caused by methane rainout from a large cloud event in October 2004. Understanding the seasonal evolution of Titan's clouds, and of any precipitation associated with them, is essential for interpreting the geological observations of fluid flow features observed over a wide range of Titan latitudes with the Cassini/Huygens spacecraft

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2006
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Provided by: Caltech Authors
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