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Geology and Surface Processes on Titan

  • Ralf Jaumann
  • Randolph L. Kirk
  • Ralph D. Lorenz
  • Rosaly M.C. Lopes
  • Ellen Stofan
  • Elizabeth P. Turtle
  • Horst Uwe Keller
  • Charles A. Wood
  • Christophe Sotin
  • Laurence A. Soderblom
  • Martin G. Tomasko

Abstract

The surface of Titan has been revealed globally, if incompletely, by Cassini observations at infrared and radar wavelengths as well as locally by the instruments on the Huygens probe. Extended dune fields, lakes, mountainous terrain, dendritic erosion patterns and erosional remnants indicate dynamic surface processes. Valleys, small-scale gullies and rounded cobbles such as those observed at the Huygens landing site require erosion by energetic flow of a liquid. There is strong evidence that liquid hydrocarbons are ponded on the surface in high-latitude lakes, predominantly, but not exclusively, at high northern latitudes. A variety of features including extensive flows and caldera-like constructs are interpreted to be cryovolcanic in origin. Chains and isolated blocks of rugged terrain rising from smoother areas are best described as mountains and might be related to tectonic processes. Finally, impact craters are observed but their small numbers indicate that the crater retention age is very young overall. In general, Titan exhibits a geologically active surface indicating significant endogenic and exogenic processes, with diverse geophysical and atmospheric processes reminiscent of those on Earth.

Keywords

Synthetic Aperture Radar Landing Site Synthetic Aperture Radar Image Impact Crater Dune Field 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the long years of work by the entire Cassini team that allowed these data of Titan to be obtained. We also acknowledge NASA, ESA, ASI, DLR, CNES, and JPL that provide support for the international Cassini team. We thank K. Stephan, M. Langhans and J. Perry, for data processing support. H. U. Keller thanks S. Schröder for his assistance. The review and discussions of Ron Greeley are highly appreciated. Part of this work was performed at DLR, Institute of Planetary Research with support from the Helmholtz Alliance ‘Planetary Evolution and Life’and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Outer Planets Research and Planetary Geology & Geophysics program.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralf Jaumann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Randolph L. Kirk
    • 3
  • Ralph D. Lorenz
    • 4
  • Rosaly M.C. Lopes
    • 5
  • Ellen Stofan
    • 6
  • Elizabeth P. Turtle
    • 4
  • Horst Uwe Keller
    • 7
  • Charles A. Wood
    • 8
  • Christophe Sotin
    • 5
  • Laurence A. Soderblom
    • 3
  • Martin G. Tomasko
    • 9
  1. 1.DLRInstitute of Planetary ResearchBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Freie Universität BerlinInstitute of Geological SciencesBerlinGermany
  3. 3.U.S. Geological SurveyFlagstaffUSA
  4. 4.Space DepartmentJohn Hopkins University Applied Physics LaboratoryLaurelUSA
  5. 5.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  6. 6.Proxemy ResearchRectortownUSA
  7. 7.Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System ResearchKatlenburg-LindauGermany
  8. 8.Planetary Science InstituteTucsonUSA
  9. 9.Lunar and Planetary LaboratoryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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