T. M. Ansty

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States

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Publications (6)15.82 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The Voyager 1 flyby of Titan in 1980 gave a first glimpse of the chemical complexity of Titan's atmosphere, detecting many new molecules with the infrared spectrometer (IRIS). These included propane (C3H8) and propyne (CH3C2H), while the intermediate-sized C3Hx hydrocarbon (C3H6) was curiously absent. Using spectra from the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) on Cassini, we show the first positive detection of propene (C3H6) in Titan's stratosphere (5-sigma significance), finally filling the three-decade gap in the chemical sequence. We retrieve a vertical abundance profile from 100-250 km, that varies slowly with altitude from ~2 ppbv at 100 km, to ~5 ppbv at 200 km. The abundance of C3H6 is less than both C3H8 and CH3C2H, and we remark on an emerging paradigm in Titan's hydrocarbon abundances whereby: alkanes > alkynes > alkenes within the C2Hx and C3Hx chemical families in the lower stratosphere. More generally, there appears to be much greater ubiquity and relative abundance of triple-bonded species than double-bonded, likely due to the greater resistance of triple bonds to photolysis and chemical attack.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2013; 776(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we describe the technical implementation of infrared observations of Titan using the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS). Due to the distributed operations model of Cassini, instrument teams such as CIRS are responsible for spacecraft pointing during their own observations. We describe the principal factors driving and constraining observation design, and then provide details of the eight standard observation types resulting, followed by a discussion of several later 'evolved' types. We then show some sample science results, and finally conclude with a mention of continuing challenges to CIRS Titan observation design.
    Aerospace Conference, 2012 IEEE; 01/2012
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we describe the first quantitative search for several molecules in Titan's stratosphere in Cassini CIRS infrared spectra. These are: ammonia (NH3), methanol (CH3OH), formaldehyde (H2CO), and acetonitrile (CH3CN), all of which are predicted by photochemical models but only the last of which has been observed, and not in the infrared. We find non-detections in all cases, but derive upper limits on the abundances from low-noise observations at 25 degrees S and 75 degrees N. Comparing these constraints to model predictions, we conclude that CIRS is highly unlikely to see NH3 or CH3OH emissions. However, CH3CN and H2CO are closer to CIRS detectability, and we suggest ways in which the sensitivity threshold may be lowered towards this goal.
    Faraday Discussions 01/2010; 147:65-81; discussion 83-102. · 3.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we select large spectral averages of data from the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) obtained in limb-viewing mode at low latitudes (30S--30N), greatly increasing the path length and hence signal-to-noise ratio for optically thin trace species such as propane. By modeling and subtracting the emissions of other gas species, we demonstrate that at least six infrared bands of propane are detected by CIRS, including two not previously identified in Titan spectra. Using a new line list for the range 1300-1400cm -1, along with an existing GEISA list, we retrieve propane abundances from two bands at 748 and 1376 cm-1. At 748 cm-1 we retrieve 4.2 +/- 0.5 x 10(-7) (1-sigma error) at 2 mbar, in good agreement with previous studies, although lack of hotbands in the present spectral atlas remains a problem. We also determine 5.7 +/- 0.8 x 10(-7) at 2 mbar from the 1376 cm-1 band - a value that is probably affected by systematic errors including continuum gradients due to haze and also an imperfect model of the n6 band of ethane. This study clearly shows for the first time the ubiquity of propane's emission bands across the thermal infrared spectrum of Titan, and points to an urgent need for further laboratory spectroscopy work, both to provide the line positions and intensities needed to model these bands, and also to further characterize haze spectral opacity. The present lack of accurate modeling capability for propane is an impediment not only for the measurement of propane itself, but also for the search for the emissions of new molecules in many spectral regions. Comment: 7 Figures, 3 Tables. Typeset in Latex with elsart.cls. In press for Planetary and Space Science
    Planetary and Space Science 09/2009; · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Propane gas (C3H8) was first detected in the atmosphere of Titan by the Voyager 1 IRIS spectrometer, during the 1980 encounter (Maguire et al., 1981), and remains the heaviest saturated hydrocarbon (alkane) found there to date. Although the identification was based on the detection of several bands (including 748, 922, 1054, 1158 cm-1), only the ν26 band at 748 cm-1 has been subsequently modeled to retrieve the abundance, due to the unique availability of its line parameters in the GEISA database (Husson et al. 1992). Subsequent measurements from the ground (Roe et al., 2003) and Earth-orbit (ISO - Coustenis et al. 2003) have also focused on this one band, deriving an abundance of ~0.5 ppm, although it remains compromised by coincidence with the R-branch of the much stronger acetylene (C2H2) gas. The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument carried on-board the Cassini spacecraft in Saturn orbit has now been observing Titan during more than 50 flybys over 5 years, and offers a fresh perspective on the prevalence of propane. With much improved spectral and spatial resolution and sensitivity over IRIS, CIRS is also able to perform repeated limb sounding (viewing through the atmosphere above the surface) to increase signal-to-noise still further. Modeling and removal of the emissions of other gases now shows clearly for the first time a multitude of propane bands: including the four seen by IRIS and at least four others (869, 1338, 1376, 1472 cm-1). In addition, a new line atlas for three bands of propane at shorter wavelengths (1300-1500 cm-1) has now been compiled, based on the work of Flaud et al. (2001). With this, we now have the potential to model these weaker bands, and to check the measurements made by CIRS using the 748 cm-1 band alone. Preliminary analysis has shown that the retrievals are very sensitive to the spectral baseline (haze model) assumed, and that existing lab tholin spectral properties (Khare et al. 1984) do not well match the opacity in this spectral region. In this paper, we present the CIRS spectra showing all the visible propane bands, with a view to stimulating laboratory spectroscopic study of the remaining mid-IR bands (especially at 869, 922, 1054 and 1158 cm-1). We also report on our progress in the modeling of the 6-8 and 13 micron bands, and give an update on the propane abundance at low latitudes. References: Coustenis et al., Icarus 161, pp. 383-403, 2003. Flaud et al., J. Chem. Phys. 114, pp. 9361-9366, 2001. Husson et al., J. Quant. Spectro. Rad. Trans. 48, pp. 509-518, 1992. Khare et al., Icarus 60, pp. 127-137, 1984. Maguire et al, Nature 292, pp. 683-686, 1981. Roe et al., Astrophys. J. 597, pp. L65-L68, 2003. Yung et al., Astrophys. J. Supp. 55, pp. 465-506, 1984.
    03/2009; 11:1899.
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    J.F. Bell, T.M. Ansty
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    ABSTRACT: We acquired high spectral and spatial resolution hyperspectral imaging spectrometer observations of Mars from near-UV to near-IR wavelengths (∼300 to 1020 nm) using the STIS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope during the 1999, 2001, and 2003 oppositions. The data sets have been calibrated to radiance factor (I/F) and map-projected for comparison to each other and to other Mars remote sensing measurements. We searched for and (where detected) mapped a variety of iron-bearing mineral signatures within the data. The strong and smooth increase in I/F from the near-UV to the visible that gives Mars its distinctive reddish color indicates that poorly crystalline ferric oxides dominate the spectral properties of the high albedo regions (as well as many intermediate and low albedo regions), a result consistent with previous remote sensing studies of Mars at these wavelengths. In the near-IR, low albedo regions with a negative spectral slope and/or a distinctive ∼900 nm absorption feature are consistent with, but not unique indicators of, the presence of high-Ca pyroxene or possibly olivine. Mixed ferric–ferrous minerals could also be responsible for the ∼900 nm feature, especially in higher albedo regions with a stronger visible spectral slope. We searched for the presence of several known diagnostic absorption features from the hydrated ferric sulfate mineral jarosite, but did not find any unique evidence for its occurrence at the spatial scale of our observations. We identified a UV contrast reversal in some dark region spectra: at wavelengths shorter than about 340 nm these regions are actually brighter than classical bright regions. This contrast reversal may be indicative of extremely “clean” low albedo surfaces having very little ferric dust contamination. Ratios between the same regions observed during the planet-encircling dust storm of 2001 and during much clearer atmospheric conditions in 2003 provide a good direct estimate of the UV to visible spectral characteristics of airborne dust aerosols. These HST observations can help support the calibration of current and future Mars orbital UV to near-IR spectrometers, and they also provide a dramatic demonstration that even at the highest spatial resolution possible to achieve from the Earth, spectral variations on Mars at these wavelengths are subtle at best.
    Icarus 01/2007; · 3.16 Impact Factor