Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

Titan Atmospheric & Surface Chemistry
post May 10 2012, 05:26 PM
Post #1

Senior Member

Group: Members
Posts: 2049
Joined: 20-April 05
Member No.: 321

The nature of the bright surface amounting to most of Titan's surface is entirely uncertain. Some of the main things we know are:

- It has a thickness between very thin (micrometers) and about 100 meters.

- If you name just about any substance expected to condense out of Titan's atmosphere, it's not it. (Spectral signal doesn't match.)

- On the VIMS dark "blue" plains where Huygens landed, the spectral signal of the bright terrain is a component that is most intense near the shoreline.

Titan has subdued topography, but if this area resembles the highlands near the Huygens landing site, there might not be vast avalanches, but crumbling on a small scale which can be significant when the layers are so small. Equatorial areas on Titan almost certainly get rainfall quite rarely, then catastrophic deluges. So models that seem plausible might include:

1) Thin sheets of dark dune material that accumulated for 10s or 100s of years as a minor albedo component being swept away by the rain, like washing a white car that hadn't had a carwash in 50 years.
2) Craggy features on a scale of centimeters or decimeters crumbling under the rainfall, reducing the shadows.

If we had a lander touch down on this sort of surface, show us the small scale morphology and analyze the chemistry of that bright coating (and what's below it), it would be a tremendous advance. Right now, we don't have a lot of information, and I'm not sure that the rest of Cassini's mission will fill in many of the blanks.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Posts in this topic

Reply to this topicStart new topic


RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 24th April 2018 - 10:31 PM
Please read the Forum Rules and Guidelines before posting.

Images posted on UnmannedSpaceflight.com may be copyrighted. Do not reproduce without permission. Read here for further information on space images and copyright.

Opinions expressed on UnmannedSpaceflight.com are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of UnmannedSpaceflight.com or The Planetary Society. The all-volunteer UnmannedSpaceflight.com moderation team is wholly independent of The Planetary Society. The Planetary Society has no influence over decisions made by the UnmannedSpaceflight.com moderators.
Unmannedspaceflight.com is a project of the Planetary Society and is funded by donations from visitors and members. Help keep this forum up and running by contributing here.