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The Saturnian satellite Rhea as seen by Cassini VIMS

January 1, 2012

Since the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn in June 2004, the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer has obtained new spectral data of the icy satellites of Saturn in the spectral range from 0.35 to 5.2 μm. Numerous flybys were performed at Saturn’s second largest satellite Rhea, providing a nearly complete coverage with pixel-ground resolutions sufficient to analyze variations of spectral properties across Rhea’s surface in detail. We present an overview of the VIMS observations obtained so far, as well as the analysis of the spectral properties identified in the VIMS spectra and their variations across its surface compared with spatially highly resolved Cassini ISS images and digital elevation models.

Spectral variations measured across Rhea’s surface are similar to the variations observed in the VIMS observations of its neighbor Dione, implying similar processes causing or at least inducing their occurrence. Thus, magnetospheric particles and dust impacting onto the trailing hemisphere appear to be responsible for the concentration of dark rocky/organic material and minor amounts of CO2 in the cratered terrain on the trailing hemisphere. Despite the prominent spectral signatures of Rhea’s fresh impact crater Inktomi, radiation effects were identified that also affect the H2O ice-rich cratered terrain of the leading hemisphere. The concentration of H2O ice in the vicinity of steep tectonic scarps near 270°W and geologically fresh impact craters implies that Rhea exhibits an icy crust at least in the upper few kilometers. Despite the evidence for past tectonic events, no indications of recent endogenically powered processes could be identified in the Cassini data.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title The Saturnian satellite Rhea as seen by Cassini VIMS
DOI 10.1016/j.pss.2011.07.019
Authors K. Stephan, R. Jaumann, R. Wagner, Roger N. Clark, D. P. Cruikshank, B. Giese, C. A. Hibbitts, T. Roatsch, K.-D. Matz, R. H. Brown, G. Filacchione, F. Cappacioni, F. Scholten, B. J. Buratti, G. B. Hansen, P. D. Nicholson, K. H. Baines, R.M. Nelson, D. L. Matson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Planetary and Space Science
Series Number
Index ID 70032537
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization