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Determination of the complex refractive indices of Titan haze analogs using photothermal deflection spectroscopy

Abstract : The spectrometers of the Cassini mission to the Saturn system have detected haze layers reaching up to 800 km in Titan's atmosphere. Knowledge of the complex refractive index (k) of the haze is important for modeling the surface and atmosphere of Titan and retrieving some information about the functional groups present in the aerosols. Plasma discharges or ultraviolet radiation are commonly used to drive the formation of solid organics assumed to be good analogs of the Titan aerosols. [Tran, B.N., Ferris, J.P., Chera, J.J., 2003a. The photochemical formation of a Titan haze analog. Structural analysis by X-ray photoelectron and infrared spectroscopy. Icarus 162, 114–124; Tran, B.N., Force, M., Briggs, R., Ferris J.P., Persans, P., Chera, J.J., 2008. Photochemical processes on Titan: Irradiation of mixtures of gases that simulate Titan's atmosphere. Icarus 177, 106–115] reported the index of refraction of analogs synthesized by far ultraviolet irradiation of various gas mixtures. k was determined in the 200–800 nm wavelength range from transmission and reflection spectroscopy. However, this technique is limited by (i) uncertainties in the absorption values because of the small amounts of organics available, (ii) light scattering by the surface roughness and particulates in the sample. These limitations prompted us to perform new measurements using photothermal deflection spectroscopy (PDS), a technique based on the conversion of absorbed light into heat in the material of interest. By combining traditional spectroscopy (λ < 500 nm) and PDS (λ > 500 nm), we determined values of k over the 375–1550 nm range. k values as low as 10−4 above 1000 nm were determined. This is one order of magnitude lower than the measurements generally used as a reference for Titan's aerosols analogs [Khare, B.N., Sagan, C., Arakawa, E.T., Suits, F., Callicott, T.A., Williams, M.W., 1984. Optical-constants of organic Tholins produced in a simulated Titanian atmosphere—from soft-X-ray to microwave-frequencies. Icarus 60(1), 127–137]. We recommend that these results were used in models to describe the optical properties of the aerosols produced in Titan's stratosphere.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 12, 2010 - 12:00:20 PM
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Véronique Vuitton, Buu N. Tran, Peter D. Persans, James P. Ferris. Determination of the complex refractive indices of Titan haze analogs using photothermal deflection spectroscopy. Icarus, Elsevier, 2009, 203 (2), pp.663-671. ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2009.04.016⟩. ⟨insu-00501514⟩



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