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The surface energy balance at the Huygens landing site and the moist surface conditions on Titan
NASA Ames Research Center, Division of Space Sciences and Astrobiology, Mail Stop 245-3, Moffett Field, CA.
NASA Ames Research Center, Division of Space Sciences and Astrobiology, Mail Stop 245-3, Moffett Field, CA.
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
2012 (English)In: Planetary and Space Science, ISSN 0032-0633, E-ISSN 1873-5088, Vol. 60, no 1, p. 376-385Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Huygens Probe provided a wealth of data concerning the atmosphere of Titan. It also provided tantalizing evidence of a small amount of surface liquid. We have developed a detailed surface energy balance for the Probe landing site. We find that the daily averaged non-radiative fluxes at the surface are 0.7 W m -2, much larger than the global average value predicted by McKay et al. (1991) of 0.037 W m -2. Considering the moist surface, the methane and ethane detected by the Probe from the surface is consistent with a ternary liquid of ethane, methane, and nitrogen present on the surface with mole fractions of methane, ethane, and nitrogen of 0.44, 0.34, and 0.22, respectively, and a total mass load of ∼0.05 kg m -2. If this liquid is included in the surface energy balance, only a small fraction of the non-radiative energy is due to latent heat release (∼10 -3 W m -2). If the amount of atmospheric ethane is less than 0.6×10 -5, the surface liquid is most likely evaporating over timescales of 5 Titan days, and the moist surface is probably a remnant of a recent precipitation event. If the surface liquid mass loading is increased to 0.5 kg m -2, then the liquid lifetime increases to ∼56 Titan days. Our modeling results indicate a dew cycle is unlikely, given that even when the diurnal variation of liquid is in equilibrium, the diurnal mass variation is only 3% of the total liquid. If we assume a high atmospheric mixing ratio of ethane (>0.6×10 -5), the precipitation of liquid is large (38 cm/Titan year for an ethane mixing ratio of 2×10 -5). Such a flux is many orders of magnitude in excess of the photochemical production rate of ethane

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 60, no 1, p. 376-385
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Research subject
Space Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-8849DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2011.11.005ISI: 000300483200043Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84855654880Local ID: 765a26d6-d95d-4856-a1a4-7ea36dd0cc5eOAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-8849DiVA, id: diva2:981787
Note

Validerad; 2012; 20111125 (ysko)

Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2018-07-10Bibliographically approved

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