NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2006A-0314

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Proposal Information for 2006A-0314


PI: Henry Roe, Caltech, hroe@gps.caltech.edu
Address: Division of Geology and Planetary Sciences, 1200 E. California Blvd M/S 150-21, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

CoI: Chadwick Trujillo, Gemini Observatory
CoI: Michael Brown, Caltech
CoI: Antonin Bouchez, Caltech Optical Observatories
CoI: Emily Schaller, Caltech

Title: Titan's methane clouds: The hunt for regions of active geology

Abstract: In previous semesters of this Titan monitoring program we discovered Titan's mid-latitude clouds (Roe et al. 2005a). We now find that these clouds are controlled by a region of active surface geology near 40^\circS, 350^\circW that is emitting methane via cryovolcanoes, geysering, and/or the opening of surface cracks (Roe et al. 2005b). This is the first observational evidence that Titan's surface is emitting methane in the present day and the first identification of a region of currently active surface geology. Imaging Titan's clouds requires only a small amount (20-25 min) of large (8-10 meter) adaptive optics telescope time and queued Gemini observations are uniquely suited to this observing program. Continued observations are required to identify other regions of methane release, better determine the behavior of the 40^\circS, 350^\circW source, and study the seasonal south polar clouds as Titan nears the season when they should disappear.


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