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The Greenhouse and Anti-Greenhouse Effects on TitanTitan is the largest moon of Saturn and is the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere. Its atmosphere is mostly made of nitrogen, with a few percent CH4, 0.1% H2 and an uncertain level of Ar (less than 10%). The surface pressure is 1.5 atms and the surface temperature is 95 K, decreasing to 71 at the tropopause before rising to stratospheric temperatures of 180 K. In pressure and composition Titan's atmosphere is the closest twin to Earth's. The surface of Titan remains unknown, hidden by the thick smog layer, but it may be an ocean of liquid methane and ethane. Titan's atmosphere has a greenhouse effect which is much stronger than the Earth's - 92% of the surface warming is due to greenhouse radiation. However an organic smog layer in the upper atmosphere produces an anti-greenhouse effect that cuts the greenhouse warming in half - removing 35% of the incoming solar radiation. Models suggest that during its formation Titan's atmosphere was heated to high temperatures due to accretional energy. This was followed by a cold Triton-like period which gradually warmed to the present conditions. The coupled greenhouse and haze anti-greenhouse may be relevant to recent suggestions for haze shielding of a CH4 - NH3 early atmosphere on Earth or Mars. When the NASA/ESA mission to the Saturn System, Cassini, launches in a few years it will carry a probe that will be sent to the surface of Titan and show us this world that is strange and yet in many ways similar to our own.
Document ID
20020005863
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
McKay, C. P. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Cuzzi, Jeffrey N.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1994
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Meeting Information
1994 American Geophysical Union Meeting(San Francisco, CA)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.