Analysis of a cryolava flow-like feature on Titan

Planetary and Space Science
By: , and 



This paper reports on the analysis of the highest spatial resolution hyperspectral images acquired by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) onboard the Cassini spacecraft during its prime mission. A bright area matches a flow-like feature coming out of a caldera-like feature observed in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data recorded by the Cassini radar experiment [Lopes et al., 2007. Cryovolcanic features on Titan's surface as revealed by the Cassini Titan Radar Mapper. Icarus 186, 395–412, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2006.09.006]. In this SAR image, the flow extends about 160 km east of the caldera. The contrast in brightness between the flow and the surroundings progressively vanishes, suggesting alteration or evolution of the composition of the cryolava during the lifetime of the eruptions. Dunes seem to cover part of this flow on its eastern end. We analyze the different terrains using the Spectral Mixing Analysis (SMA) approach of the Multiple-Endmember Linear Unmixing Model (MELSUM, Combe et al., 2008). The study area can be fully modeled by using only two types of terrains. Then, the VIMS spectra are compared with laboratory spectra of known materials in the relevant atmospheric windows (from 1 to 2.78 μm). We considered simple molecules that could be produced during cryovolcanic events, including H2O, CO2 (using two different grain sizes), CH4 and NH3. We find that the mean spectrum of the cryoflow-like feature is not consistent with pure water ice. It can be best fitted by linear combinations of spectra of the candidate materials, showing that its composition is compatible with a mixture of H2O, CH4 and CO2.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Analysis of a cryolava flow-like feature on Titan
Series title Planetary and Space Science
DOI 10.1016/j.pss.2009.03.005
Volume 57
Issue 7
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 870
Last page 879
Other Geospatial Titan
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