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Close up surface features of U&N:s satellites, discussion thread (obviously, no close up photos exists)
j-zeitler
post Jan 13 2016, 09:05 AM
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Hi all,

This has perhaps been asked before but since many of Uranus' and Neptune's satellites have many similarities in material composition (most are mainly rock + water ice), how much can be known about small scale features of their surfaces? How accurate would a procedurally estimated terrain patch of, say, 1x1km be. How about 100x100m? 1x1m?

I began thinking about this going through the imagery from Philae/Rosetta on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Since 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko consists largely of water ice, like many of U&N satellites surfaces (even though many are ~50/50 rock/ice, the moons surfaces should be more ice because of cryo-volcanism from what I understand), we could perhaps take a lot of inspiration from those photos. How would U&N moons differ from 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on a detailed scale? I am specifically doing a project about Uranus' Miranda but since the topic may apply to many of the satellites, feel free to discuss others too!

Some of the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko imagery:
http://cdn4.sci-news.com/images/enlarge/im..._1e-Rosetta.jpg
http://spaceflightnow.com/wp-content/uploa...58e6c1682_o.jpg
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/40vJvruqoKs/maxresdefault.jpg
Reason for edit: Replaced enormous inline images with links
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tanjent
post Jan 13 2016, 03:21 PM
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It's an interesting question, J, and I can only respond in the sort of speculative way that your question invites.
Topographic ruggedness should be inversely related to surface gravity, and even in the fairly-well photographed case of Miranda you are obviously talking about something much larger than PC-G.
So I would expect the scenery to be less dramatic on all but the smallest moons of those worlds.
The difference between PC-G and say, similarly-sized asteroids Eros or Itokawa, where gravity is also very slight is surely related to the venting of water and other volatiles.
Such venting requires large scale temperature changes, which would be absent even if the volatile content of the Uranian and Neptunian moons was comparable to that of PC-G.
Saturn's Atlas shows plenty of dust, maybe similar to PC-G, but probably without any evaporative "winds" to sculpt it.
But hand-waving aside, I am as curious as you are to get a closer look. Probably less likely than you are to see that curiosity satisfied, unfortunately...
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j-zeitler
post Jan 28 2016, 11:03 AM
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Great throughts! I had not thought about PC-G winds/evaporation as "erosive forces", but that may explain some of the features of the comet.
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