Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Determining Titan's spin state from Cassini RADAR images

September 28, 2010

For some 19 areas of Titan's surface, the Cassini RADAR instrument has obtained synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images during two different flybys. The time interval between flybys varies from several weeks to two years. We have used the apparent misregistration (by 10-30 km) of features between separate flybys to construct a refined model of Titan's spin state, estimating six parameters: north pole right ascension and declination, spin rate, and these quantities' first time derivatives We determine a pole location with right ascension of 39.48 degrees and declination of 83.43 degrees corresponding to a 0.3 degree obliquity. We determine the spin rate to be 22.5781 deg day -1 or 0.001 deg day-1 faster than the synchronous spin rate. Our estimated corrections to the pole and spin rate exceed their corresponding standard errors by factors of 80 and 8, respectively. We also found that the rate of change in the pole right ascension is -30 deg century-1, ten times faster than right ascension rate of change for the orbit normal. The spin rate is increasing at a rate of 0.05 deg day -1 per century. We observed no significant change in pole declination over the period for which we have data. Applying our pole correction reduces the feature misregistration from tens of km to 3 km. Applying the spin rate and derivative corrections further reduces the misregistration to 1.2 km.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2008
Title Determining Titan's spin state from Cassini RADAR images
DOI 10.1088/0004-6256/135/5/1669
Authors B.W. Stiles, Randolph L. Kirk, R. D. Lorenz, S. Hensley, E. Lee, S.J. Ostro, M.D. Allison, P.S. Callahan, Y. Gim, L. Iess, P.P. Del Marmo, G. Hamilton, W.T.K. Johnson, R.D. West
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Astronomical Journal
Series Number
Index ID 70000533
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center