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Dynamics of Triton's atmosphere

Ingersoll, Andrew P. (1990) Dynamics of Triton's atmosphere. Nature, 344 (6264). pp. 315-317. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/344315a0.

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The recent Voyager encounter established certain facts about Triton's atmosphere: the surface pressure is in the range 1.5 – 1.9 Pa (15–19 μbar); the surface temperature is 38 ± 3K (ref. 2); molecular nitrogen is the dominant atmospheric constituent; hazes and clouds are visible not only on the limb but also against the surface; the wind in the southern hemisphere is to the northeast at low altitudes (as shown by streaks on the surface) and to the west at high altitudes (as shown by geyser-like plume tails). Triton rotates with a period of 5.877 days in a right-hand sense about the south pole, where the season now is late spring4. Here we argue that these features can be explained if Triton, like Mars, has a global, well-structured atmosphere in equilibrium with surface frosts. The subliming frost cap produces a polar anticyclone at low altitudes, with northeastward winds of ~5 m s^(−1) within the Ekman boundary layer. The temperature contrast between the cold frost-covered pole and the warm unfrosted equator produces westward winds at high altitudes.

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Ingersoll, Andrew P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Additional Information:© 1990 Nature Publishing Group. Received 16 November 1989; accepted 15 February 1990. I thank R. H. Brown, C. Chyba, C. Leovy, S. Leroy, R. M. Nelson, C. Sagan, J. Spencer, E. Stone, D. Strobel, R. Thompson, R. Yelle and R. Zurek for useful comments and discussions. The research was supported by the NASA Planetary Atmospheres Program and by Voyager Project funds.
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Issue or Number:6264
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:38024
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:18 Apr 2013 21:15
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:33

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