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Photochemical Enrichment of Deuterium in Titan's Atmosphere: New Insights from Cassini-Huygens

Abstract : Cassini-Huygens data are used to reexamine the potential sources of the D/H enhancement over solar, measured in methane, in Titan's atmosphere. Assuming that the system is closed with respect to carbon, the use of constraints from the Huygens probe for the determination of the current mass of atmospheric methane and the most up-to-date determination of D/H from Cassini CIRS infrared spectra allow us to show that photochemical enrichment of deuterium is not sufficient to be the sole mechanism yielding the measured D/H value. A possible fractionation between CH3D and CH4 during the escape process may slightly enhance the deuterium enrichment, but is not sufficient to explain the observed D/H value over the range of escape values proposed in the literature. Hence, alternative mechanisms such as a primordial deuterium enrichment must be combined with the photochemical enrichment in Titan's atmosphere in order to explain its current D/H value.
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Contributor : Béatrice Pibaret-Bourdon <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 11:55:41 AM
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Daniel Cordier, Olivier Mousis, J. Lunine, Audrey Moudens, Véronique Vuitton. Photochemical Enrichment of Deuterium in Titan's Atmosphere: New Insights from Cassini-Huygens. The Astrophysical Journal, American Astronomical Society, 2008, 689, pp.L61-L64. ⟨10.1086/595677⟩. ⟨insu-00360104⟩