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The lower exosphere of Titan: Energetic neutral atoms absorption and imaging

Abstract : The Saturn magnetosphere interacts with the Titan atmosphere through various mechanisms. One of them leads, by charge exchange reactions between the energetic Saturnian ions and the exospheric neutrals of Titan, to the production of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs). The Ion and Neutral Camera (INCA), one of the three sensors that comprise the Magnetosphere Imaging Instrument (MIMI) on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan, images the ENA emissions in the Saturnian magnetosphere. This study focuses on the ENA imaging of Titan (for 20–50 keV H ENAs), with the example of the Ta Titan flyby (26 October 2004): our objective is to understand the positioning of the ENA halo observed around Titan. Thus we investigate the main ENA loss mechanisms, such as the finite gyroradii effects for the parent ions, or the charge stripping with exospheric neutrals. We show that multiple stripping and charge exchange reactions have to be taken into account to understand the ENA dynamics. The use of an analytical approach, taking into account these reactions, combined with a reprocessing of the INCA data, allows us to reproduce the ENA images of the Ta flyby and indicates a lower limit for ENA emission around the exobase. However, the dynamics of energetic particles through the Titan atmosphere remains complex, with an inconsistency between the ENA imaging at low and high altitudes.
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P. Garnier, I. Dandouras, D. Toublanc, E. C. Roelof, P. C. Brandt, et al.. The lower exosphere of Titan: Energetic neutral atoms absorption and imaging. Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2008, 113 (A10), pp.A10216. ⟨10.1029/2008JA013029⟩. ⟨insu-00360351⟩

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