Discovery of lake-effect clouds on Titan
Images from instruments on Cassini as well as from telescopes on the ground reveal the presence of sporadic small-scale cloud activity in the cold late-winter north polar region of Saturn's large moon Titan. These clouds lie underneath the previously discovered uniform polar cloud attributed to a quiescent ethane cloud at similar to 40 km and appear confined to the same latitudes as those of the largest known hydrocarbon lakes at the north pole of Titan. The physical properties of these clouds suggest that they are due to methane convection and condensation. Such convection could be caused by a process in some ways analogous to terrestrial lake-effect clouds. The lakes on Titan could be a key connection between the surface and the meteorological cycle.
Additional Information© 2009 by the American Geophysical Union. Received 9 September 2008; revised 13 November 2008; accepted 25 November 2008; published 3 January 2009. We would like to thank two anonymous referees for insightful comments that improved this paper. This research is supported by a NSF Planetary Astronomy grant to MEB and a NASA Planetary Astronomy grant to HGR.
Published - BROgrl09.pdf
Submitted - 0809.1841.pdf