Dynamics of Titan's thermosphere

H. Rishbeth, R. V. Yelle, M. Mendillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We estimate the wind speeds in Titan's thermosphere by considering the various terms of the wind equation, without actually solving it, with a view to anticipating what might be observed by the Cassini spacecraft in 2004. The winds, which are driven by horizontal pressure gradients produced by solar heating, are controlled in the Earth's thermosphere by ion-drag and coriolis force, but in Titan's thermosphere they are mainly controlled by the nonlinear advection and curvature forces. Assuming a day night temperature difference of 20 K, we find that Titan's thermospheric wind speed is typically 60 m s-1. In contrast, the Earth's thermospheric winds, of order 50 m s-1, do not equalize day and night temperatures. We speculate on other factors, such as the electrodynamics of Titan's thermosphere and the tides due to Saturn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-58
Number of pages8
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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