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Using observations from the international Cassini spacecraft, scientists have explored the ring-like mounds that wrap around some of the pools found at the poles of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The study reveals more about how these features formed.
The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission spent 13 years in the Saturnian system, with the Cassini spacecraft carrying ESA's Huygens probe, which landed on the icy moon in 2005. During Cassini's tour of Saturn and its moons, it made more than 100 flybys of Titan, revealing around 650 lakes and seas in the polar regions of Titan—300 of which are at least partially filled with a liquid mix of methane and ethane.
Titan - Lakes - Depressions - Floors - Depths
Most of Titan's smaller lakes are characterized as sharp-edged depressions, either empty or full, with relatively flat floors, depths of up to 600 m, and steep, narrow outer rims roughly 1 km in width.
Some lakes, however, are surrounded by ramparts: ring-shaped mounds that extend for tens of km from a lake's shoreline. Unlike rims, these ramparts totally enclose their host lake.
Formation - Titan - Lakes - Surrounding - Features
"The formation of Titan's lakes, and their surrounding features, remains an open question," says Anezina Solomonidou, an ESA research fellow at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) near Madrid, Spain, and lead author of a new study into Titan's ramparts.
"Ramparts may hold important clues about how the lake-filled polar regions of Titan became what we see today. Previous research revealed their existence, but how did they form?"
Solomonidou - Collaborators - Radar - Data - Cassini
Solomonidou and her collaborators combined spectral and radar data from Cassini for the first time to explore five regions near Titan's north pole with filled lakes and raised ramparts, and three empty lakes from a nearby region. The lakes ranged from 30 to 670 square km in size, and were entirely surrounded by 200 to 300 m-high ramparts that sprawled outwards from the lake perimeters for up to...
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