Axel dust on Saturn and Titan

M. Podolak*, R. E. Danielson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The scattering and absorption properties of Axel dust were investigated by means of Mie theory. We find that a flat distribution of particle radii between 0 and 0.1 μm, and an imaginary part of the index of refraction which varies as λ-2.5 produce a good fit to the variation of Titan's geometric albedo with wavelength (λ) provided that τext, the extinction optical depth of Titan's atmosphere at 5000 Å, is about 10. The real part of the complex index is taken to be 2.0. The model assumes that the mixing ratio of Axel dust to gas is uniform above the surface of Titan. The same set of physical properties for Axel dust also produces a good fit to Saturn's albedo if τext = 0.7 at 5000 Å. To match the increase in albedo shortward of 3500 Å, a clear layer (containing about 7 km-am H2) is required above the Axel dust. Such a layer is also required to explain the limb brightening in the ultraviolet. These models can be used to analyze the observed equivalent widths of the visible methane bands. The analysis yields an abundance of the order of 1000 m-am CH4 in Titan's atmosphere. The derived CH4/H2 mixing ratio for Saturn is about 3.5 × 10-3 or an enhancement of about 5 over the solar ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-492
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1977
Externally publishedYes


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