Ionization balance in Titan's nightside ionosphere

E. Vigren, M. Galand, R. V. Yelle, A. Wellbrock, A. J. Coates, D. Snowden, J. Cui, P. Lavvas, N. J.T. Edberg, O. Shebanits, J. E. Wahlund, V. Vuitton, K. Mandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Based on a multi-instrumental Cassini dataset we make model versus observation comparisons of plasma number densities, nP=(nenI)1/2 (ne and nI being the electron number density and total positive ion number density, respectively) and short-lived ion number densities (N+, CH2+, CH3+, CH4+) in the southern hemisphere of Titan's nightside ionosphere over altitudes ranging from 1100 and 1200km and from 1100 to 1350km, respectively. The nP model assumes photochemical equilibrium, ion-electron pair production driven by magnetospheric electron precipitation and dissociative recombination as the principal plasma neutralization process. The model to derive short-lived-ion number densities assumes photochemical equilibrium for the short-lived ions, primary ion production by electron-impact ionization of N2 and CH4 and removal of the short-lived ions through reactions with CH4. It is shown that the models reasonably reproduce the observations, both with regards to nP and the number densities of the short-lived ions. This is contrasted by the difficulties in accurately reproducing ion and electron number densities in Titan's sunlit ionosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-546
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Ionospheres
  • Titan
  • Titan, atmosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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