Marc Dennis, Darci Snowden
Darci Snowden (Physics)
Titan is the largest moon orbiting Saturn that is comparable in size to planets present in our solar system. Titan is compelling because the makeup of Titan’s atmosphere has a likeness to Earth’s. The scientific community is interested in understanding the loss rates of Titan’s atmosphere. The problem I am solving involves Titan’s atmospheric loss via outflow along the magnetic field of Saturn. Photochemical reactions in Titan’s atmosphere produce ions and photoelectrons that are more energetic than electrons normally found in the charged upper portion of the atmosphere, commonly known as the ionosphere. Energetic electrons escape along the magnetic field lines and create a charge-separation, making it possible for these ions to be pulled from the atmosphere due to the electric field created. The goal is to estimate loss rates due to ion outflow along these field lines. I have analyzed magnetic field data and electron density data collected from the Cassini spacecraft. I will establish the framework for a one-dimensional model to simulate ion outflow along magnetic field lines due to the ambipolar electric field. Future projects may involve more analysis and the creation of a model for two or three dimensions.
Keywords: Titan, Atmosphere, Space