EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 417, Number 1, April I 2004
Page(s) L21 - L24
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040027

A&A 417, L21-L24 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040027


VLT/NACO adaptive optics imaging of Titan

E. Gendron1, A. Coustenis1, P. Drossart1, M. Combes1, M. Hirtzig1, F. Lacombe1, D. Rouan1, C. Collin1, S. Pau1, A-M. Lagrange2, D. Mouillet2, P. Rabou2, T. Fusco3 and G. Zins4

1  Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, UMR 8109 du CNRS, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
2  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, Observatoire de Grenoble, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble, France
3  ONERA - DOTA, 92322 Châtillon, France
4  ESO, Karl-Schwarzschild -Str. 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany

( Received 18 March 2003 / Accepted 17 January 2004)

The advent of the NAOS/CONICA adaptive optics system at the ESO Very Large Telescope recently gave us the opportunity to map the surface of Titan and to search for atmospheric variations at high spatial resolution and contrast. We report here the first results from a series of observations of Titan performed with this instrument in a number of near-infrared narrow-band filters, covering various altitude regions and three different longitudes (out of the 16 days of Titan's orbit). We have achieved unequaled contrast on images showing complex topography on Titan's trailing hemisphere and have found robust evidence for the north-south asymmetry inversion. The presence of other interesting atmospheric features at Titan's South Pole is described.

Key words: instrumentation: adaptive optics -- planets and satellites: individual: Titan -- infrared: solar system

Offprint request: E. Gendron, Eric.Gendron@obspm.fr

© ESO 2004