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Crater topography on Titan: implications for landscape evolution

April 21, 2013

We present a comprehensive review of available crater topography measurements for Saturn’s moon Titan. In general, the depths of Titan’s craters are within the range of depths observed for similarly sized fresh craters on Ganymede, but several hundreds of meters shallower than Ganymede’s average depth vs. diameter trend. Depth-to-diameter ratios are between 0.0012 ± 0.0003 (for the largest crater studied, Menrva, D ~ 425 km) and 0.017 ± 0.004 (for the smallest crater studied, Ksa, D ~ 39 km). When we evaluate the Anderson–Darling goodness-of-fit parameter, we find that there is less than a 10% probability that Titan’s craters have a current depth distribution that is consistent with the depth distribution of fresh craters on Ganymede. There is, however, a much higher probability that the relative depths are uniformly distributed between 0 (fresh) and 1 (completely infilled). This distribution is consistent with an infilling process that is relatively constant with time, such as aeolian deposition. Assuming that Ganymede represents a close ‘airless’ analogue to Titan, the difference in depths represents the first quantitative measure of the amount of modification that has shaped Titan’s surface, the only body in the outer Solar System with extensive surface–atmosphere exchange.

Publication Year 2013
Title Crater topography on Titan: implications for landscape evolution
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2012.11.030
Authors Catherine D. Neish, R. L. Kirk, R. D. Lorenz, V.J. Bray, P. Schenk, B.W. Stiles, E. Turtle, Ken Mitchell, A. Hayes
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70043896
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center