Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is often compared to Earth since it is the only satellite in the Solar System that has a dense atmosphere. Indeed, one of its most striking features is a thick brown-coloured layer of haze, extending upwards for roughly 1000 km into the lower atmosphere. This haze is made up of photochemical organic aerosols that eventually fall to the ground. New work by Daniel Cordier of the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne and Nathalie Carrasco of LATMOS and the Institut Universitaire de France in Paris has now revealed patchy films of aerosols deposited on the lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons in the polar regions of Titan (identified by the Cassini-Huygens mission). These films are similar to microlayers of oil or surfactant on water on our planet and may explain the stillness of Cassini’s lakes. They could also influence the atmospheric hydrocarbon cycle on the satellite.
Reference: The floatability of aerosols and wave damping on Titan’s seas, Daniel Cordier and Nathalie Carrasco, Nature Geoscience
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