The Open UniversitySkip to content

Speed of sound measurements and the methane abundance in Titan's atmosphere

Hagermann, A.; Rosenberg, P. D.; Towner, M. C.; Garry, J. R. C.; Svedhem, H.; Leese, M. R.; Hathi, B.; Lorenz, R. D. and Zarnecki, J. C. (2007). Speed of sound measurements and the methane abundance in Titan's atmosphere. Icarus, 189(2) pp. 538–543.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Aboard the Huygens probe, which descended through Titan's atmosphere in January 2005, was the Surface Science Package (SSP), a set of 9 sensors, including a speed-of-sound sensor. We present the first detailed description of the SSP speed of sound measurements and report constraints on the methane content in Titan's lower atmosphere based on these measurements. After a careful calibration and subsequent Bayesian analysis, our measurements yield a most likely methane fraction in Titan's lower atmosphere of approximately 2% at 10 km, increasing to 3.5% at lower altitudes, based on a binary composition. Our data show that any large scale variation of methane within the lower 11 km of Titan's atmosphere is unlikely. Within experimental and theoretical uncertainties, our results are compatible with earlier estimates obtained from the GCMS experiment [Niemann, H.B., Atreya, S.K., Bauer, S.J., Carignan, G.R., Demick, J.E., Frost, R.L., Gautier, D., Haberman, J.A., Harpold, D.N., Hunten, D.M., Israel, G., Lunine, J.I., Kasprzak, W.T., Owen, T.C., Paulkovich, M., Raulin, F., Raaen, E., Way, S.H., 2005. Nature 438 (7069), 779–784].

Item Type: Article
ISSN: 1090-2643
Keywords: Titan; Atmospheres, composition
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 8454
Depositing User: Users 2315 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2016 10:03
Share this page:


Scopus Citations

▼ Automated document suggestions from open access sources

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340