Tyler Tippens, Elias Roussos, Sven Simon, Lucas Liuzzo

A Novel Backtracing Model to Study the Emission of Energetic Neutral Atoms at Titan

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics

AbstractTo study the emission of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) at Titan, we have developed a novel model that takes into account a spacecraft detector's limited field of view and traces energetic magnetospheric particles backward in time. ENAs are generated by charge exchange between Titan's atmospheric neutrals and energetic magnetospheric ions. By tracing these ions through the draped electromagnetic fields in Titan's environment, we generate synthetic ENA images and compare them to Cassini observations from the TA flyby. Our model can reproduce the intensity and morphology of the observed images only when field line draping is included. Using a realistic detector geometry is necessary to determine the influence of this draping on the ENA images: the non‐uniform fields eliminate a localized feature of increased ENA flux, which is a different effect than in models utilizing an infinitely extended detector. We demonstrate that ENA observations from TA contain signatures of the time‐varying Saturnian magnetospheric environment at Titan: the modeled ENA emission morphology and the effect of field line draping are different for the background field vectors measured during the inbound and outbound legs of TA. The visibility and qualitative effect of the draping on observed ENA images vary strongly between different detector locations and pointings. Depending on the viewing geometry, field line draping may add segments of elevated flux to the synthetic ENA images, remove such segments, or have no qualitative effect at all. Our study emphasizes the challenges and the potential for remote sensing of Titan's interaction region using ENA imaging.

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