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Imaging and Spectroscopy of Titan from JWST and Keck

Presentation #401.03 in the session JWST Views of the Outer Planets and their Moons (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Imaging and Spectroscopy of Titan from JWST and Keck

In November 2022, long-awaited imaging and spectroscopic observations of Titan were returned from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The first round of observations, part of Guaranteed Time Observation (GTO) project 1251, targeted the trailing hemisphere of Titan using the near-infrared instruments NIRCam and NIRSpec. NIRCam imaging at wavelengths in spectral windows between absorbing methane bands (e.g., 2.1 microns) showed well-known surface markings, including the large Belet sand sea and the large northern seas. Bright clouds were seen at around 50ºN on the west limb and 60ºN on the east limb, in line with seasonal expectations and GCM simulations. In addition, a bright hood was seen over the southern limb, which is currently the subject of modeling to determine its altitude and composition. Follow-up imaging observations were made on two subsequent nights using Keck/NIRC2 to investigate the behavior of the clouds, which showed that they were seemingly persistent at these locations over this timescale. JWST/NIRSpec data showed emission bands of CO, CH4 and HCN, which may be modeled to determine high-altitude abundances. In July-2023, further JWST observations targeted the leading hemisphere, this time with three instruments (NIRCam, NIRSpec and MIRI) and the analysis of the newer data is ongoing. This presentation will provide a summary of the observational strategy and early results of the combined JWST/Keck campaign, and preview future observations planned for JWST Cycle 2.

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