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Millimeter-wave observations of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune - CO and HCN on Neptune
Rosenqvist, Jan; Lellouch, Emmanuel; Romani, Paul N.; Paubert, Gabriel; Encrenaz, Therese
AA(Paris, Observatoire, Meudon, France), AB(Paris, Observatoire, Meudon, France), AC(NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD), AD(Instituto de Radioastronomia Milimetrica, Granada, Spain), AE(Paris, Observatoire, Meudon, France)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 392, no. 2, June 20, 1992, p. L99-L102. (ApJL Homepage)
Publication Date:
Lunar and Planetary Exploration
NASA/STI Keywords:
Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocyanic Acid, Neptune Atmosphere, Saturn Atmosphere, Uranus Atmosphere, Atmospheric Composition, Microwave Imagery, Millimeter Waves, Triton
Bibliographic Code:


Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were observed at millimeter wavelengths with the IRAM 30 m telescope. The major result is the detection of CO and HCN in Neptune's stratosphere, with respective mixing ratios of (6.5 +/- 3.5) x 10 exp -7 and (3 +/- 1.5) x 10 exp -10. CO seems to be present in Neptune's troposphere as well and to slowly decrease with altitude (scale height about 200 km). HCN is probably formed from reactions between CH3 and N, which can be supplied in sufficient amounts by escape from Triton's atmosphere. The origin of CO, however, is more problematic, because: (1) thermochemical models fail to reproduce the observed abundance by a factor of about 1000; and (2) an external source would require a very large flux of oxygen. CO appears to be at least 15 times less abundant on Uranus than on Neptune. Finally, an upper limit of 10 exp -7 for CO in Saturn's stratosphere suggests an internal origin for Saturnian CO.

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