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Hypsometry of Titan

August 9, 2011

Cassini RADAR topography data are used to evaluate Titan’s hypsometric profile, and to make comparisons with other planetary bodies. Titan’s hypsogram is unimodal and strikingly narrow compared with the terrestrial planets. To investigate topographic extremes, a novel variant on the classic hypsogram is introduced, with a logarithmic abscissa to highlight mountainous terrain. In such a plot, the top of the terrestrial hypsogram is quite distinct from those of Mars and Venus due to the ‘glacial buzz-saw’ that clips terrestrial topography above the snowline. In contrast to the positive skew seen in other hypsograms, with a long tail of positive relief due to mountains, there is an indication (weak, given the limited data for Titan so far) that the Titan hypsogram appears slightly negatively skewed, suggesting a significant population of unfilled depressions. Limited data permit only a simplistic comparison of Titan topography with other icy satellites but we find that the standard deviation of terrain height (albeit at different scales) is similar to those of Ganymede and Europa.

Publication Year 2011
Title Hypsometry of Titan
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.10.002
Authors Ralph D. Lorenz, Elizabeth P. Turtle, Bryan Stiles, Alice Le Gall, Alexander Hayes, Oded Aharonson, Charles A. Wood, Ellen Stofan, Randy Kirk
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70003649
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center