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Photochemistry Saturn's AtmosphereWe use a one-dimensional diurnally averaged model of photochemistry and diffusion in Saturn's stratosphere to investigate the influence of extraplanetary debris on atmospheric chemistry. In particular, we consider the effects of an influx of oxygen from micrometeoroid ablation or from ring-particle diffusion; the contribution from cometary impacts, satellite debris, or ring vapor is deemed to be less important. The photochemical model results are compared directly with Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) observations to constrain the influx of extraplanetary oxygen to Saturn. From the ISO observations, we determine that the column densities of CO2 and H2O above 10 mbar in Saturn's atmosphere are (6.3 +/- 1) x 10(exp 14) and (1.4 +/- 0.4) x 10(exp 15)/ square cm, respectively; our models indicate that a globally averaged oxygen influx of (4+/-2) x 10(exp 6) O atoms /sq cm/s is required to explain these observations. Models with a locally enhanced influx of H20 operating over a small fraction of the projected area do not provide as good a fit to the ISO H2O observations. If volatile oxygen compounds comprise one-third to one-half of the exogenic source by mass, then Saturn is currently being bombarded with (3 +/- 2) x 10(exp -16) g/square cm/s of extraplanetary material. To reproduce the observed CO2/H2O ratio in Saturn's stratosphere, some of the exogenic oxygen must arrive in the form of a carbon-oxygen bonded species such as CO or CO2. An influx consistent with the composition of cometary ices fails to reproduce the high observed CO2/H2O ratio, suggesting that (i) the material has ices that are slightly more carbon-rich than is typical for comets, (ii) a contribution from an organic-rich component is required, or (iii) some of the hydrogen-oxygen bonded material is converted to carbon-oxygen bonded material without photochemistry (e.g., during the ablation process). We have also reanalyzed the 5-micron CO observations of Noll and Larson and determine that the CO lines are most sensitive to the 100- to 400-mbar column density for which we derive a range of (0.7-1.5) x 10(exp 17)/square cm; the CO observations do not allow us to distinguish between an external or internal source of CO on Saturn. If we assume that all the extraplanetary oxygen derives from a micrometeoroid source, then the unfocused dust flux at 9.5 AU must be (i) (1 +/- 0.7) x 10(exp -16) g/square cm/s if interstellar grains are the source of the external oxygen on Saturn, (ii) (4 +/- 3) x 10 (exp -17) g/ sq. cm./s if IDPs on randomly inclined, highly eccentric orbits (e.g., Halley-type comet grains) are the source of the external oxygen, or (iii) (2+/- 1.4) x 10(exp -18)/g/sq cm/s if IDPs on low inclination, low eccentricity orbits (e.g., Kuiper-belt grains) are the source of the external oxygen. These estimates can be used in combination with future Cassini dust detection data to determine the ultimate source of the dust at Saturn's distance from the Sun.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Moses, Julianne I. (Lunar and Planetary Inst. Houston, TX United States)
Lellouch, Emmanuel (Observatoire de Paris-Meudon France)
Bezard, Bruno (Observatoire de Paris-Meudon France)
Gladstone, G. Randall (Southwest Research Inst. San Antonio, TX United States)
Allen, Mark (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 145
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits