Methods of Estimating Initial Crater Depths on Icy Satellites using Stereo Topography

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 4:15 PM
Divya M Persaud, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States and Cynthia B Phillips, SETI Institute Mountain View, Mountain View, CA, United States
Stereo topography, combined with models of viscous relaxation of impact craters, allows for the study of the rheology and thermal history of icy satellites. An important step in calculating relaxation of craters is determining the initial depths of craters before viscous relaxation. Two methods for estimating initial crater depths on the icy satellites of Saturn have been previously discussed. White and Schenk (2013) present the craters of Iapetus as relatively unrelaxed in modeling the relaxation of craters of Rhea. Phillips et al. (2013) assume that Herschel crater on Saturn’s satellite Mimas is unrelaxed in relaxation calculations and models of Rhea and Dione. In the second method, the depth of Herschel crater is scaled based on the different crater diameters and the difference in surface gravity on the large moons to predict the initial crater depths for Rhea and Dione. In the first method, since Iapetus is of similar size to Dione and Rhea, no gravity scaling is necessary; craters of similar size on Iapetus were chosen and their depths measured to determine the appropriate initial crater depths for Rhea.

We test these methods by first extracting topographic profiles of impact craters on Iapetus from digital elevation models (DEMs) constructed from stereo images from the Cassini ISS instrument. We determined depths from these profiles and used them to calculate initial crater depths and relaxation percentages for Rhea and Dione craters using the methods described above. We first assumed that craters on Iapetus were relaxed, and compared the results to previously calculated relaxation percentages for Rhea and Dione relative to Herschel crater (with appropriate scaling for gravity and crater diameter). We then tested the assumption that craters on Iapetus were unrelaxed and used our new measurements of crater depth to determine relaxation percentages for Dione and Rhea. We will present results and conclusions from both methods and discuss their efficacy for determining initial crater depth.

References: Phillips, C.B., et al. (2013). Lunar Planet Sci. XLIV, abstract 2766.

White, O.L., and P.L. Schenk. Icarus 23, 699-709, 2013.

This work was supported by the NASA Outer Planets Research Program grant NNX10AQ09G and by the NSF REU Program.