loading page

Observation of Enhanced Oxygen Bombardment of Titan
  • Joseph Hinton Westlake,
  • Donald G. Mitchell,
  • Jared M. Bell
Joseph Hinton Westlake
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Corresponding Author:joseph.westlake@jhuapl.edu

Author Profile
Donald G. Mitchell
The Johns Hopkins Apllied Physics Laboratory
Author Profile
Jared M. Bell
National Institute of Aerospace
Author Profile


Here we present observations and simulations of oxygen particle bombardment into Titan’s thermosphere that represents a new class of upper atmospheric stimulus. We find that these large bursts of energetic oxygen ions contain sufficient energy to perturb Titan’s thermosphere, if the energy is applied at the right altitude. In this study we present Cassini observations during the T20 flyby of Titan in 2006 specifically from the Cassini Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI; Krimigis et al. [2004]) and the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS; Young et al. [2004]). We utilize simulations using the Titan-Global Ionosphere Thermosphere Model to assess the impact of energetic oxygen bursts similar to the one observed during T20 on the thermospheric structure. We find that energy deposited higher in Titan’s thermosphere has a much greater effect on the temperatures that Cassini would observe from the INMS instrument. These higher altitude energy deposition events are similar to those that occur from corotational oxygen and water group ions in Saturn’s magnetosphere. We find that the more energetic heavy ions tend to penetrate deeper into the thermosphere resulting in a much more benign heating rate and minimal temperature change, however when these events carry along lower energy thermal oxygen ions that will deposit energy at higher altitudes the temperature change can be much more substantial.
02 Nov 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
03 Nov 2023Published in ESS Open Archive