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Investigating Titan’s Atmospheric Chemistry with ALMA

Presentation #419.02 in the session Laboratory Astrophysics (LAD) Division Meeting: A Universe of Carbon III.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Investigating Titan’s Atmospheric Chemistry with ALMA

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, experiences dramatic seasons throughout its lengthy year (~29.5 yr) that can be traced through variations in its atmospheric composition and dynamical state. Roughly half of Titan’s full seasonal cycle has been observed throughout the Cassini-Huygens mission, primarily through the infrared emission of many molecular species formed via Titan’s N2 and CH4-based atmospheric photochemistry. During Titan’s northern spring and summer, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) provided a means by which to study seasonal variations in Titan’s atmosphere through high spatial resolution capabilities and coverage of numerous rotational transitions of the trace hydrocarbons (CXHY) and nitriles (CXHY[CN]Z) found on Titan. Here, we present a summary of new results in the investigation of Titan’s atmospheric dynamics, composition, and searches for previously undetected molecular species and isotopes following its vernal equinox and into the post-Cassini era. Through these observations and the ongoing use of submillimeter facilities such as ALMA, we may further explore the complex chemical and dynamical evolution of Titan’s atmosphere throughout its full seasonal cycle.

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