Publications by Patrick Irwin


Abundances of Jupiter's trace hydrocarbons from Voyager and Cassini

Planetary and Space Science Elsevier 58 (2010) 1667-1680

CA Nixon, RK Achterberg, PN Romani, M Allen, X Zhang, NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin, FM Flasar

The flybys of Jupiter by the Voyager spacecraft in 1979, and over two decades later by Cassini in 2000, have provided us with unique datasets from two different epochs, allowing the investigation of seasonal change in the atmosphere. In this paper we model zonal averages of thermal infrared spectra from the two instruments, Voyager 1 IRIS and Cassini CIRS, to retrieve the vertical and meridional profiles of temperature, and the abundances of the two minor hydrocarbons, acetylene (C2H2) and ethane (C2H6). The spatial variation of these gases is controlled by both chemistry and dynamics, and therefore their observed distribution gives us an insight into both processes. We find that the two gases paint quite different pictures of seasonal change. Whilst the 2-D cross-section of C2H6 abundance is slightly increased and more symmetric in 2000 (northern summer solstice) compared to 1979 (northern fall equinox), the major trend of equator to pole increase remains. For C2H2 on the other hand, the Voyager epoch exhibits almost no latitudinal variation, whilst the Cassini era shows a marked decrease polewards in both hemispheres. At the present time, these experimental findings are in advance of interpretation, as there are no published models of 2-D Jovian seasonal chemical variation available for comparison.


Seasonal change on Saturn from Cassini/CIRS observations, 2004-2009

Icarus 208 (2010) 337-352

LN Fletcher, RK Achterberg, TK Greathouse, GS Orton, BJ Conrath, AA Simon-Miller, N Teanby, S Guerlet, PGJ Irwin, FM Flasar

Five years of thermal infrared spectra from the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) are analyzed to determine the response of Saturn's atmosphere to seasonal changes in insolation. Hemispheric mapping sequences at 15.0cm-1 spectral resolution are used to retrieve the variation in the zonal mean temperatures in the stratosphere (0.5-5.0mbar) and upper troposphere (75-800mbar) between October 2004 (shortly after the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere) and July 2009 (shortly before the autumnal equinox).Saturn's northern mid-latitudes show signs of dramatic warming in the stratosphere (by 6-10. K) as they emerge from ring-shadow into springtime conditions, whereas southern mid-latitudes show evidence for cooling (4-6. K). The 40-K asymmetry in stratospheric temperatures between northern and southern hemispheres (at 1. mbar) slowly decreased during the timespan of the observations. Tropospheric temperatures also show temporal variations but with a smaller range, consistent with the increasing radiative time constant of the atmospheric response with increasing pressure. The tropospheric response to the insolation changes shows the largest magnitude at the locations of the broad retrograde jets. Saturn's warm south-polar stratospheric hood has cooled over the course of the mission, but remains present.Stratospheric temperatures are compared to a radiative climate model which accounts for the spatial distribution of the stratospheric coolants. The model successfully predicts the magnitude and morphology of the observed changes at most latitudes. However, the model fails at locations where strong dynamical perturbations dominate the temporal changes in the thermal field, such as the hot polar vortices and the equatorial semi-annual oscillation (Orton, G., and 27 colleagues [2008]. Nature 453, 196-198). Furthermore, observed temperatures in Saturn's ring-shadowed regions are larger than predicted by all radiative-climate models to date due to the incomplete characterization of the dynamical response to the shadow. Finally, far-infrared CIRS spectra are used to demonstrate variability of the para-hydrogen distribution over the 5-year span of the dataset, which may be related to observed changes in Saturn's tropospheric haze in the spring hemisphere. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Correlations between cloud thickness and sub-cloud water abundance on Venus

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS 37 (2010) ARTN L02202

CCC Tsang, CF Wilson, JK Barstow, PGJ Irwin, FW Taylor, K McGouldrick, G Piccioni, P Drossart, H Svedhem


Revised vertical cloud structure of Uranus from UKIRT/UIST observations and changes seen during Uranus' Northern Spring Equinox from 2006 to 2008: Application of new methane absorption data and comparison with Neptune

Icarus 208 (2010) 913-926

PGJ Irwin, NA Teanby, GR Davis

Long-slit spectroscopy observations of Uranus by the United Kingdom InfraRed Telescope UIST instrument in 2006, 2007 and 2008 have been used to monitor the change in Uranus' vertical and latitudinal cloud structure through the planet's Northern Spring Equinox in December 2007.These spectra were analysed and presented by Irwin et al. (Irwin, P.G.J., Teanby, N.A., Davis, G.R. [2009]. Icarus 203, 287-302), but since publication, a new set of methane absorption data has become available (Karkoschka, E., Tomasko, M. [2010]. Methane absorption coefficients for the jovian planets from laboratory, Huygens, and HST data. Icarus 205, 674-694.), which appears to be more reliable at the cold temperatures and high pressures of Uranus' deep atmosphere. We have fitted k-coefficients to these new methane absorption data and we find that although the latitudinal variation and inter-annual changes reported by Irwin et al. (2009) stand, the new k-data place the main cloud deck at lower pressures (2-3. bars) than derived previously in the H-band of ∼3-4. bars and ∼3. bars compared with ∼6. bars in the J-band. Indeed, we find that using the new k-data it is possible to reproduce satisfactorily the entire observed centre-of-disc Uranus spectrum from 1 to 1.75μm with a single cloud at 2-3. bars provided that we make the particles more back-scattering at wavelengths less than 1.2μm by, for example, increasing the assumed single-scattering albedo from 0.75 (assumed in the J and H-bands) to near 1.0. In addition, we find that using a deep methane mole fraction of 4% in combination with the associated warm 'F' temperature profile of Lindal et al. (Lindal, G.F., Lyons, J.R., Sweetnam, D.N., Eshleman, V.R., Hinson, D.P. [1987]. J. Geophys. Res. 92, 14987-15001), the retrieved cloud deck using the new (Karkoschka and Tomasko, 2010) methane absorption data moves to between 1 and 2. bars. The same methane absorption data and retrieval algorithm were applied to observations of Neptune made during the same programme and we find that we can again fit the entire 1-1.75μm centre-of-disc spectrum with a single cloud model, providing that we make the stratospheric haze particles (of much greater opacity than for Uranus) conservatively scattering (i.e ω=1) and we also make the deeper cloud particles, again at around the 2. bar level more reflective for wavelengths less than 1.2μm. Hence, apart from the increased opacity of stratospheric hazes in Neptune's atmosphere, the deeper cloud structure and cloud composition of Uranus and Neptune would appear to be very similar. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Martian atmosphere as observed by VIRTIS-M on Rosetta spacecraft

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS 115 (2010) ARTN E04004

A Coradini, D Grassi, F Capaccioni, G Filacchione, F Tosi, E Ammannito, MC De Sanctis, V Formisano, P Wolkenberg, G Rinaldi, G Arnold, MA Barucci, G Bellucci, J Benkhoff, JP Bibring, A Blanco, D Bockelee-Morvan, MT Capria, R Carlson, U Carsenty, P Cerroni, L Colangeli, M Combes, M Combi, J Crovisier, P Drossart, T Encrenaz, S Erard, C Federico, U Fink, S Fonti, W-H Ip, PGJ Irwin, R Jaumann, E Kuehrt, Y Langevin, G Magni, T McCord, V Mennella, S Mottola, G Neukum, V Orofino, P Palumbo, G Piccioni, H Rauer, B Schmitt, D Tiphene, FW Taylor, GP Tozzi


Martian atmosphere as observed by VIRTIS-M on Rosetta spacecraft

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets 115 (2010)

A Coradini, D Grassi, F Capaccioni, G Filacchione, F Tosi, E Ammannito, MC De Sanctis, V Formisano, P Wolkenberg, G Rinaldi, G Arnold, MA Barucci, G Bellucci, J Benkhoff, JP Bibring, A Blanco, D Bockelee-Morvan, MT Capria, R Carlson, U Carsenty, P Cerroni, L Colangeli, M Combes, M Combi, J Crovisier, P Drossart, T Encrenaz, S Erard, C Federico, U Fink, S Fonti, WH Ip, PGJ Irwin, R Jaumann, E Kuehrt, Y Langevin, G Magni, T McCord, V Mennella, S Mottola, G Neukum, V Orofino, P Palumbo, G Piccioni, H Rauer, B Schmitt, D Tiphene, FW Taylor, GP Tozzi

The Rosetta spacecraft accomplished a flyby of Mars on its way to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 25 February 2007. In this paper we describe the measurements obtained by the M channel of the Visual and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS-M) and the first scientific results derived from their analysis. The broad spectral coverage of the VIRTIS-M in the IR permitted the study of various phenomena occurring in the Martian atmosphere; observations were further exploited to achieve accurate absolute radiometric calibration. Nighttime data from the VIRTIS-M constrain the air temperature profile in the lower atmosphere (5-30 km), using variations in CO2 opacity at 4.3 mm. A comparison of this data with the global circulation model (GCM) by Forget et al. (1999) shows a trend of slightly higher air temperature in the VIRTIS-M retrievals; this is accompanied by the presence of moderate decreases (∼5 K) in large sections of the equatorial region. This is potentially related to the occurrence of water ice cl uds. Daytime data from the VIRTIS-M reveal CO 2 non-local thermodynamic equilibrium emission in the high atmosphere. A mapping of emission intensity confirms its strict dependence on solar zenith angle. Additionally, devoted limb observations allowed the retrieval of vertical emission intensity profiles, indicating a peak around 105 km in southern tropical regions. Ozone content can be effectively monitored by the emission of O2 (a1Δg) at 1.27 μm. Retrieved emission intensity shows that polar regions are particularly rich in ozone. Aerosol scattering was observed in the 1-2.5 μm region above the night region above the night disk, suggesting the occurrence of very high noctilucent clouds. Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.


Compositional evidence for Titan's stratospheric tilt

Planetary and Space Science 58 (2010) 792-800

NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin, R de Kok

Five years of Cassini CIRS infrared spectra have been used to determine the tilt of Titan's stratospheric symmetry axis with respect to the solid body rotation axis. Measurements of HCN abundance centred around 5 mbar (125 km altitude) at equatorial latitudes show the symmetry axis is tilted by 4.0 ± 1 . 5{ring operator} in a direction 70 ± 40{ring operator} W of the sub-solar point. This value is consistent with tilts determined from temperature and haze measurements by Achterberg et al. (2008a) and Roman et al. (2009). The consistency of results from three independent methods suggests that Titan's entire stratosphere is tilted and provides a powerful constraint on the underlying atmospheric dynamics. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Thermal structure and composition of Jupiter's Great Red Spot from high-resolution thermal imaging

Icarus 208 (2010) 306-328

LN Fletcher, GS Orton, O Mousis, P Yanamandra-Fisher, PD Parrish, PGJ Irwin, BM Fisher, L Vanzi, T Fujiyoshi, T Fuse, AA Simon-Miller, E Edkins, TL Hayward, J De Buizer

Thermal-IR imaging from space-borne and ground-based observatories was used to investigate the temperature, composition and aerosol structure of Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS) and its temporal variability between 1995 and 2008. An elliptical warm core, extending over 8° of longitude and 3° of latitude, was observed within the cold anticyclonic vortex at 21°S. The warm airmass is co-located with the deepest red coloration of the GRS interior. The maximum contrast between the core and the coldest regions of the GRS was 3.0-3.5. K in the north-south direction at 400. mbar atmospheric pressure, although the warmer temperatures are present throughout the 150-500. mbar range. The resulting thermal gradients cause counter-rotating flow in the GRS center to decay with altitude into the lower stratosphere. The elliptical warm airmass was too small to be observed in IRTF imaging prior to 2006, but was present throughout the 2006-2008 period in VLT, Subaru and Gemini imaging.Spatially-resolved maps of mid-IR tropospheric aerosol opacity revealed a well-defined lane of depleted aerosols around the GRS periphery, and a correlation with visibly-dark jovian clouds and bright 4.8-μm emission. Ammonia showed a similar but broader ring of depletion encircling the GRS. This narrow lane of subsidence keeps red aerosols physically separate from white aerosols external to the GRS. The visibility of the 4.8-μm bright periphery varies with the mid-IR aerosol opacity of the upper troposphere. Compositional maps of ammonia, phosphine and para-H2 within the GRS interior all exhibit north-south asymmetries, with evidence for higher concentrations north of the warm central core and the strongest depletions in a symmetric arc near the southern periphery. Small-scale enhancements in temperature, NH3 and aerosol opacity associated with localized convection are observed within the generally-warm and aerosol-free South Equatorial Belt (SEB) northwest of the GRS. The extent of 4.8-μm emission from the SEB varied as a part of the 2007 'global upheaval,' though changes during this period were restricted to pressures greater than 500mbar. Finally, a region of enhanced temperatures extended southwest of the GRS during the survey, restricted to the 100-400mbar range and with no counterpart in visible imaging or compositional mapping. The warm airmass was perturbed by frequent encounters with the cold airmass of Oval BA, but no internal thermal or compositional effects were noted in either vortex during the close encounters. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


A tropical haze band in Titan's stratosphere

Icarus 207 (2010) 485-490

R de Kok, PGJ Irwin, NA Teanby, S Vinatier, F Tosi, A Negrão, S Osprey, A Adriani, ML Moriconi, A Coradini

Inspection of near-infrared images from Cassini's Imaging Science Subsystem and Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer have revealed a new feature in Titan's haze structure: a narrow band of increased scattering by haze south of the equator. The band seems to indicate a region of very limited mixing in the lower stratosphere, which causes haze particles to be trapped there. This could explain the sharp separation between the two hemispheres, known as the north-south asymmetry, seen in images. The separation of the two hemispheres can also be seen in the stratosphere above 150 km using infrared spectra measured by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer. Titan's behaviour in the lower tropical stratosphere is remarkably similar to that of the Earth's tropical stratosphere, which hints at possible common dynamical processes. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Mapping Titan's HCN in the far infra-red: implications for photochemistry.

Faraday Discuss 147 (2010) 51-64

NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin, R de Kok, CA Nixon

Observations of Titan's far infra-red spectra by the Cassini orbiter's Composite InfraRed Spectrometer have been used to determine the latitude distribution of HCN at 1 mbar by fitting the HCN and CO rotational lines in the 18-60 cm(-1) (160-550 microm) spectral range. Results confirm the north polar HCN enrichment previously observed using mid-IR data and support the conclusion that Titan's nitrile species are significantly more enriched than hydrocarbons species with similar predicted photochemical lifetimes. This suggests Titan's photochemical cycle includes an additional sink for nitrogen bearing species. The abundance of CO was also determined, and had a mean value of 55 +/- 6 ppm at 20 mbar. However, it was not possible to reliably determine the CO latitude variation due to unconstrained temperatures in the north polar lower stratosphere.


Upper limits for undetected trace species in the stratosphere of Titan.

Faraday Discuss 147 (2010) 65-81

CA Nixon, RK Achterberg, NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin, J-M Flaud, I Kleiner, A Dehayem-Kamadjeu, LR Brown, RL Sams, B Bézard, A Coustenis, TM Ansty, A Mamoutkine, S Vinatier, GL Bjoraker, DE Jennings, PN Romani, FM Flasar

In this paper we describe the first quantitative search for several molecules in Titan's stratosphere in Cassini CIRS infrared spectra. These are: ammonia (NH3), methanol (CH3OH), formaldehyde (H2CO), and acetonitrile (CH3CN), all of which are predicted by photochemical models but only the last of which has been observed, and not in the infrared. We find non-detections in all cases, but derive upper limits on the abundances from low-noise observations at 25 degrees S and 75 degrees N. Comparing these constraints to model predictions, we conclude that CIRS is highly unlikely to see NH3 or CH3OH emissions. However, CH3CN and H2CO are closer to CIRS detectability, and we suggest ways in which the sensitivity threshold may be lowered towards this goal.


Titan's prolific propane: The Cassini CIRS perspective

Planetary and Space Science 57 (2009) 1573-1585

CA Nixon, DE Jennings, JM Flaud, B Bézard, NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin, TM Ansty, A Coustenis, S Vinatier, FM Flasar

Although propane gas (C3 H8) was first detected in the stratosphere of Titan by the Voyager IRIS infrared spectrometer in 1980, obtaining an accurate measurement of its abundance has proved difficult. All existing measurements have been made by modeling the ν26 band at 748 cm- 1: however, different analyzes over time have yielded quite different results, and it also suffers from confusion with the strong nearby ν5 band of acetylene. In this paper we select large spectral averages of data from the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) obtained in limb-viewing mode at low latitudes (30{ring operator}S-30{ring operator}N), greatly increasing the path length and hence signal-to-noise ratio for optically thin trace species such as propane. By modeling and subtracting the emissions of other gas species, we demonstrate that at least six infrared bands of propane are detected by CIRS, including two not previously identified in Titan spectra. Using a new linelist for the range 1300-1400cm- 1, along with an existing GEISA list, we retrieve propane abundances from two bands at 748 and 1376cm- 1 . At 748cm- 1 we retrieve 4.2 ± 0.5 × 10- 7 (1 - σ error) at 2 mbar, in good agreement with previous studies, although lack of hotbands in the present spectral atlas remains a problem. We also determine 5.7 ± 0.8 × 10- 7 at 2 mbar from the 1376cm- 1 band - a value that is probably affected by systematic errors including continuum gradients due to haze and also an imperfect model of the ν6 band of ethane. This study clearly shows for the first time the ubiquity of propane's emission bands across the thermal infrared spectrum of Titan, and points to an urgent need for further laboratory spectroscopy work, both to provide the line positions and intensities needed to model these bands, and also to further characterize haze spectral opacity. The present lack of accurate modeling capability for propane is an impediment not only for the measurement of propane itself, but also for the search for the emissions of new molecules in many spectral regions. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.


Vertical cloud structure of Uranus from UKIRT/UIST observations and changes seen during Uranus' northern spring equinox from 2006 to 2008

Icarus 203 (2009) 287-302

PGJ Irwin, NA Teanby, GR Davis

Long-slit spectroscopy observations of Uranus by the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope UIST instrument in 2006, 2007 and 2008 have been used to monitor the change in Uranus' vertical and latitudinal cloud structure through the planet's northern spring equinox in December 2007. The observed reflectance spectra in the Long J (1.17-1.31 μm) and H (1.45-1.65 μm) bands, obtained with the slit aligned along Uranus' central meridian, have been fitted with an optimal estimation retrieval model to determine the vertical cloud profile from 0.1 to 6-8 bar over a wide range of latitudes. Context images in a number of spectral bands were used to discriminate general zonal cloud structural changes from passing discrete clouds. From 2006 to 2007 reflection from deep clouds at pressures between 2 and 6-8 bar increased at all latitudes, although there is some systematic uncertainty in the absolute pressure levels resulting from extrapolating the methane coefficients of Irwin et al. (Irwin, P.G.J., Sromovsky, L.A., Strong, E.K., Sihra, K., Teanby, N.A., Bowles, N., Calcutt, S.B., Remedios, J.J. [2006] Icarus, 181, 309-319) at pressures greater than 1 bar, as noted by Tomasko et al. and Karkoschka and Tomasko (Tomasko, M.G., Bezard, B., Doose, L., Engel, S., Karkoschka, E. [2008] Planet. Space Sci., 56, 624-647; Karkoschka, E., Tomasko, M. [2009] Icarus). However, from 2007 to 2008 reflection from these clouds throughout the southern hemisphere and from both northern and southern mid-latitudes (30° N,S) diminished. As a result, the southern polar collar at 45°S has diminished in brightness relative to mid-latitudes, a similar collar at 45°N has become more prominent (e.g. Rages, K.A., Hammel, H.B., Sromovsky, L. [2007] Bull. Am. Astron. Soc., 39, 425; Sromovsky, L.A., Fry, P.M., Ahue, W.M., Hammel, H.B., de Pater, I., Rages, K.A., Showalter, M.R., van Dam, M.A. [2008] vol. 40 of AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts, pp. 488-489; Sromovsky, L.A., Ahue, W.K.M., Fry, P.M., Hammel, H.B., de Pater, I., Rages, K.A., Showalter, M.R. [2009] Icarus), and the lowering reflectivity from mid-latitudes has left a noticeable brighter cloud zone at the equator (e.g. Sromovsky, L.A., Fry, P.M. [2007] Icarus, 192, 527-557;Karkoschka, E., Tomasko, M. [2009] Icarus). For such substantial cloud changes to have occurred in just two years suggests that the circulation of Uranus' atmosphere is much more vigorous and/or efficient than is commonly thought. The composition of the main observed cloud decks between 2 and 6-8 bar is unclear, but the absence of the expected methane cloud at 1.2-1.3 bar (Lindal, G.F., Lyons, J.R., Sweetnam, D.N., Eshleman, V.R., Hinson, D.P. [1987] J. Geophys. Res., 92, 14987-15001) is striking (as previously noted by, among others, Sromovsky, L.A., Irwin, P.G.J., Fry, P.M. [2006] Icarus, 182, 577-593; Sromovsky, L.A., Fry, P.M. [2007] Icarus, 192, 527-557; Sromovsky, L.A., Fry, P.M. [2008] Icarus, 193, 252-266; Karkoschka, E., Tomasko, M. [2009] Icarus) and suggests that cloud particles may be considerably different from pure condensates and may be linked with stratospheric haze particles drizzling down from above, or that tropospheric hazes are generated near the methane condensation level and then drizzle down to deep pressures as suggested by Karkoschka and Tomasko (Karkoschka, E., Tomasko, M. [2009] Icarus). The retrieved cloud structures were also tested for different assumptions of the deep methane mole fraction, which Karkoschka and Tomasko (Karkoschka, E., Tomasko, M. [2009] Icarus) find may vary from ∼1-2% in polar regions to perhaps as much as 4% equatorwards of 45°N,S. We found that such variations did not significantly affect our conclusions. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Phosphine on Jupiter and Saturn from Cassini/CIRS

Icarus 202 (2009) 543-564

LN Fletcher, GS Orton, NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin

The global distribution of phosphine (PH3) on Jupiter and Saturn is derived using 2.5 cm-1 spectral resolution Cassini/CIRS observations. We extend the preliminary PH3 analyses on the gas giants [Irwin, P.G.J., and 6 colleagues, 2004. Icarus 172, 37-49; Fletcher, L.N., and 9 colleagues, 2007a. Icarus 188, 72-88] by (a) incorporating a wider range of Cassini/CIRS datasets and by considering a broader spectral range; (b) direct incorporation of thermal infrared opacities due to tropospheric aerosols and (c) using a common retrieval algorithm and spectroscopic line database to allow direct comparison between these two gas giants. The results suggest striking similarities between the tropospheric dynamics in the 100-1000 mbar regions of the giant planets: both demonstrate enhanced PH3 at the equator, depletion over neighbouring equatorial belts and mid-latitude belt/zone structures. Saturn's polar PH3 shows depletion within the hot cyclonic polar vortices. Jovian aerosol distributions are consistent with previous independent studies, and on Saturn we demonstrate that CIRS spectra are most consistent with a haze in the 100-400 mbar range with a mean optical depth of 0.1 at 10 μm. Unlike Jupiter, Saturn's tropospheric haze shows a hemispherical asymmetry, being more opaque in the southern summer hemisphere than in the north. Thermal-IR haze opacity is not enhanced at Saturn's equator as it is on Jupiter. Small-scale perturbations to the mean PH3 abundance are discussed both in terms of a model of meridional overturning and parameterisation as eddy mixing. The large-scale structure of the PH3 distributions is likely to be related to changes in the photochemical lifetimes and the shielding due to aerosol opacities. On Saturn, the enhanced summer opacity results in shielding and extended photochemical lifetimes for PH3, permitting elevated PH3 levels over Saturn's summer hemisphere. © 2009 Elsevier Inc.


Small-scale composition and haze layering in Titan's polar vortex

Icarus 204 (2009) 645-657

NA Teanby, R de Kok, PGJ Irwin

Fine scale layering of haze and composition in Titan's stratosphere and mesosphere was investigated using visible/UV images from Cassini's Imaging Science Sub-system (ISS) and IR spectra from Cassini's Composite Infra-Red Spectrometer (CIRS). Both ISS and CIRS independently show fine layered structures in haze and composition, respectively, in the 150-450 km altitude range with a preferred vertical wavelength of around 50 km. Layers are most pronounced around the north polar winter vortex, although some weaker layers do exist at more southerly latitudes. The amplitude of composition layers in each trace gas profile is proportional to the relative enrichment of that species in the winter polar vortex compared to equatorial latitudes. As enrichment is caused by polar subsidence, this suggests a dynamical origin. We propose that the polar layers are caused by cross-latitude advection across the vortex boundary. This is analogous to processes that lead to ozone laminae formation around Earth's polar vortices. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Analysis of thermal emission from the nightside of Venus at 1.51 and 1.55 μm

Icarus 201 (2009) 814-817

CF Wilson, CCC Tsang, PGJ Irwin, FW Taylor, B Bézard, S Erard, RW Carlson, P Drossart, G Piccioni, RC Holmes

We present radiative transfer modelling of thermal emission from the nightside of Venus in two 'spectral window' regions at 1.51 and 1.55 μm. The first discovery of these windows, reported by Erard et al. [Erard, S., Drossart, P., Piccioni, G., 2009. J. Geophys. Res. Planets 114, doi:10.1029/2008JE003116. E00B27], was achieved using a principal component analysis of data from the VIRTIS instrument on Venus Express. These windows are spectrally narrow, with a full-width at half-maximum of ∼20 nm, and less bright than the well-known 1.7 and 2.3 μm spectral windows by two orders of magnitude. In this note we present the first radiative transfer analysis of these windows. We conclude that the radiation in these windows originates at an altitude of 20-35 km. As is the case for the other infrared window regions, the brightness of the windows is affected primarily by the optical depth of the overlying clouds; in addition, the 1.51 μm radiance shows a very weak sensitivity to water vapour abundance. © 2009 Elsevier Inc.


Variability of CO concentrations in the Venus troposphere from Venus Express/VIRTIS using a Band Ratio Technique

Icarus 201 (2009) 432-443

CCC Tsang, FW Taylor, CF Wilson, SJ Liddell, PGJ Irwin, G Piccioni, P Drossart, SB Calcutt

A fast method is presented for deriving the tropospheric CO concentrations in the Venus atmosphere from near-infrared spectra using the night side 2.3 μm window. This is validated using the spectral fitting techniques of Tsang et al. [Tsang, C.C.C., Irwin, P.G.J., Taylor, F.W., Wilson, C.F., Drossart, P., Piccioni, G., de Kok, R., Lee, C., Calcutt, S.B., and the Venus Express/VIRTIS Team, 2008a. Tropospheric carbon monoxide concentrations and variability on Venus with Venus Express/VIRTIS-M observations. J. Geophys. Res. 113, doi: 10.1029/2008JE003089. E00B08] to show that monitoring CO in the deep atmosphere can be done quickly using large numbers of observations, with minimal effect from cloud and temperature variations. The new method is applied to produce some 1450 zonal mean CO profiles using data from the first eighteen months of operation from the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer infrared mapping subsystem (VIRTIS-M-IR) on Venus Express. These results show many significant long- and short-term variations from the mean equator-to-pole increasing trend previously found from earlier Earth- and space-based observations, including a possible North-South dichotomy, with interesting implications for the dynamics and chemistry of the lower atmosphere of Venus. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Determining vertical cloud structure on Venus using near-infrared spectroscopy

European Planetary Science Congress 2009 (2009) 249-249

JK Barstow, FW Taylor, CCC Tsang, CF Wilson, PGJ Irwin, P Drossart, G Piccioni


Minor Species in the Deep Atmosphere of Venus: Dynamical Tracers seen by Venus Express

AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #41 41 (2009) #60.07-#60.07
Part of a series from AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts

C Tsang, CF Wilson, JK Barstow, B Bezard, PGJ Irwin, FW Taylor, G Piccioni, P Drossart, K McGouldrick, SB Calcutt


Titan's stratospheric C<inf>2</inf>N<inf>2</inf>, C<inf>3</inf>H<inf>4</inf>, and C<inf>4</inf>H<inf>2</inf> abundances from Cassini/CIRS far-infrared spectra

Icarus 202 (2009) 620-631

NA Teanby, PGJ Irwin, R de Kok, A Jolly, B Bézard, CA Nixon, SB Calcutt

Far-IR (25-50 μm, 200-400 cm-1) nadir and limb spectra measured during Cassini's four year prime mission by the Composite InfraRed Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument have been used to determine the abundances of cyanogen (C2N2), methylacetylene (C3H4), and diacetylene (C4H2) in Titan's stratosphere as a function of latitude. All three gases are enriched at northern latitudes, consistent with north polar subsidence. C4H2 abundances agree with those derived previously from mid-IR data, but C3H4 abundances are about 2 times lower, suggesting a vertical gradient or incorrect band intensities in the C3H4 spectroscopic data. For the first time C2N2 was detected at southern and equatorial latitudes with an average volume mixing ratio of 5.5 ± 1.4 × 10- 11 derived from limb data (> 3 - σ significance). This limb result is also corroborated by nadir data, which give a C2N2 volume mixing ratio of 6 ± 3 × 10- 11 (2-σ significance) or alternatively a 3-σ upper limit of 17 × 10- 11. Comparing these figures with photochemical models suggests that galactic cosmic rays may be an important source of N2 dissociation in Titan's stratosphere. Like other nitriles (HCN, HC3N), C2N2 displays greater north polar relative enrichment than hydrocarbons with similar photochemical lifetimes, suggesting an additional loss mechanism for all three of Titan's main nitrile species. Previous studies have suggested that HCN requires an additional sink process such as incorporation into hazes. This study suggests that such a sink may also be required for Titan's other nitrile species. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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