Space Science Reviews

, Volume 153, Issue 1–4, pp 447–484 | Cite as

Evolution of Icy Satellites

  • G. Schubert
  • H. Hussmann
  • V. Lainey
  • D. L. Matson
  • W. B. McKinnon
  • F. Sohl
  • C. Sotin
  • G. Tobie
  • D. Turrini
  • T. Van Hoolst
Article

Abstract

Evolutionary scenarios for the major satellites of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto-Charon are discussed. In the Jovian system the challenge is to understand how the present Laplace resonance of Io, Europa, and Ganymede was established and to determine whether the heat being radiated by Io is in balance with the present tidal dissipation in the moon. In the Saturnian system, Enceladus and Titan are the centers of attention. Tidal heating is the likely source of activity at the south pole of Enceladus, although the details of how the heating occurs are not understood. An evolutionary scenario based on accretion and internal differentiation is presented for Titan, whose present substantial orbital eccentricity is not associated with any dynamical resonance. The source and maintenance of methane in Titan’s present atmosphere remain uncertain. Though most attention on the Saturnian moons focuses on Titan and Enceladus, the mid-size satellites Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, and the irregular satellite Phoebe also draw our interest. An evolutionary scenario for Iapetus is presented in which spin down from an early rapidly rotating state is called upon to explain the satellite’s present oblate shape. The prominent equatorial ridge on Iapetus is unexplained by the spin down scenario. A buckling instability provides another possible explanation for the oblateness and equatorial ridge of Iapetus. Rhea is the only medium-size Saturnian satellite for which there are gravity data at present. The interpretation of these data are uncertain, however, since it is not known if Rhea is in hydrostatic equilibrium. Pluto and Charon are representative of the icy dwarf planets of the Kuiper belt. Did they differentiate as they evolved, and do either of them have a subsurface liquid water ocean? New Horizons might provide some answers when it arrives at these bodies.

Keywords

Outer planet moons Io Europa Enceladus Dione Titan Iapetus Rhea Tethys Phoebe Pluto Charon Satellite evolution 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Schubert
    • 1
  • H. Hussmann
    • 2
  • V. Lainey
    • 3
  • D. L. Matson
    • 4
  • W. B. McKinnon
    • 5
  • F. Sohl
    • 2
  • C. Sotin
    • 6
  • G. Tobie
    • 7
  • D. Turrini
    • 8
  • T. Van Hoolst
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary PhysicsUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.German Aerospace Center (DLR)Institute of Planetary ResearchBerlinGermany
  3. 3.IMCCE-Observatoire de ParisUMR 8028 du CNRSParisFrance
  4. 4.JPL 183-335PasadenaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and McDonnell Center for the Space SciencesWashington UniversitySaint LouisUSA
  6. 6.JPL/CaltechPasadenaUSA
  7. 7.University of NanteNantesFrance
  8. 8.INAF-IFSIRomeItaly
  9. 9.Royal Observatory of BelgiumBrusselsBelgium

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