Pit distribution in the equatorial region of Titan

Kimberly A. Adams*, Donna M. Jurdy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cassini radar images of Titans surface reveal numerous dark circular features in the equatorial region. These may be related to methane sublimation and have been interpreted as pits. In the T8 equatorial swath, we identify 199 individual pits and estimate their diameters. We analyze the observed spatial distribution and size to characterize these features and understand their formation. Chi-square analysis confirms a significant deviation from a random distribution and shows clustering over the entire swath. However, analysis of the densest cluster of pits, a group of 50, shows a more random distribution. Fractal analysis and comparison with a same-sized random set find only a hint of linearity. A Poisson distribution fits the observed pit-sizes, although resolution limits size determination for the smallest pits, those less than 1 km in diameter. Models for random pit generation and evolution simulate the observed Poisson distribution of pit sizes, with larger pits forming by the coalescing of smaller, overlapping ones. Pits, estimated to cover 0.5% of the equatorial T8 swath, could be an erosion mechanism that significantly contributes to the negative skew that has been observed in Titans hypsography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-66
Number of pages9
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Keywords

  • Cassini
  • Cryovolcanism
  • Erosion
  • Hypsography
  • Pits
  • Radar
  • Tectonism
  • Titan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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