The reflectance spectrum of Titan's surface at the Huygens landing site determined by the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer [EPA]

The Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer aboard the Huygens probe successfully acquired images and spectra of the surface of Titan. To counter the effects of haze and atmospheric methane absorption it carried a Surface Science Lamp to illuminate the surface just before landing. We reconstruct the reflectance spectrum of the landing site in the 500-1500 nm range from Downward Looking Visual and Infrared Spectrometer data that show evidence of lamp light. Our reconstruction is a followup to the analysis by Tomasko et al. (2005), who scaled their result to the ratio of the up- and down flux measured just before landing. Instead, we use the lamp flux from the calibration experiment, and find a significantly higher overall reflectance. We attribute this to a phase angle dependance, possibly representing the opposition surge commonly encountered on solar system bodies. The reconstruction in the visible wavelength range is greatly improved. Here, the reflectance spectrum features a red slope, consistent with the presence of organic material. We confirm the blue slope in the near-IR, featureless apart from a single shallow absorption feature at 1500 nm. We agree with Tomasko et al. that the evidence for water ice is inconclusive. By modeling of absorption bands we find a methane mixing ratio of 4.5% +/- 0.5% just above the surface. There is no evidence for the presence of liquid methane, but the data do not rule out a wet soil at a depth of several centimeters.

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S. Schroder and H. Keller
Fri, 3 Feb 17

Comments: 23 pages, 15 figures