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Publication Detail
Heavy negative ion growth in Titan’s polar winter
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Wellbrock A, Coates AJ, Jones GH, Vuitton V, Lavvas P, Desai RT, Waite JH
  • Publisher:
    Oxford University Press (OUP)
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
Abstract A significant but unexpected result of the Cassini mission was the discovery of heavy organic negative ions in Titan’s ionosphere at altitudes between about 950 km and 1400 km by the CAPS Electron Spectrometer (ELS). The heaviest ions were observed during the T16 flyby with masses over 13,000 u/q. This is significantly higher than the maximum masses observed during other flybys. We study T16 CAPS-ELS observations and examine the evolution of mass spectra at different altitudes. We also study maximum mass trends using a large data set from all available CAPS-ELS observations of the Cassini mission, in order to investigate the conditions necessary to allow negative ions to grow to the highest masses. For the first time, we are able to investigate the relationship between the highest mass particles and seasonal effects. We find that the combination of high latitude and winter conditions, resulting in long-term restricted solar flux, create an environment in which ion growth can reach the highest masses, as observed during T16. Restricting solar flux long-term, and hence photo destruction reactions such as photodetachment, appear to be essential for negative ions to grow beyond 10,000 u/q.
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