We combine derived ion-electron pair formation rates with Cassini Radio Plasma Wave Science Langmuir Probe measurements of electron and positive ion number densities in Titan's sunlit ionosphere. We show that positive ion number densities in Titan's sunlit ionosphere can increase toward significantly lower altitudes than the peak of ion-electron pair formation despite that the effective ion-electron recombination coefficient increases. This is explained by the increased mixing ratios of negative ions, which are formed by electron attachment to neutrals. While such a process acts as a sink for free electrons, the positive ions become longer-lived as the rate coefficients for ion-anion neutralization reactions are smaller than those for ion-electron dissociative recombination reactions.
- molecular processes
- planets and satellites: individual (Titan)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science