A Detailed Geomorphological Sketch Map of Titan's Afekan Crater Region

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Ashley Schoenfeld1, Michael J Malaska2, Rosaly M C Lopes2, Alice Anne Le Gall3, Samuel P Birch1 and Alexander Hayes4, (1)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)LATMOS Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, Paris Cedex 05, France, (4)Cornell University, Department of Astronomy, Ithaca, NY, United States
Due to Titan’s uniquely thick atmosphere and organic haze layers, the most detailed images (with resolution of 300 meters per pixel) of the Saturnian moon’s surface exist as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images taken by Cassini’s RADAR instrument. Using the SAR data, we have been putting together detailed geomorphological sketch maps of various Titan regions in an effort to piece together its geologic history. We initially examined the Afekan region of Titan due to extensive SAR coverage. Features described on Afekan fall under the categories (in order of geologic age, extrapolated from their relative emplacement) of hummocky, labyrinthic, plains, and dunes. During our mapping effort, we also divided each terrain category into several different subclasses on a local level. Our map offers a chance to present and analyze the distribution, relationship, and potential formation hypotheses of the different terrains. In bulk, we find evidence for both Aeolian and fluvial processes. A particularly important unit found in the Afekan region is the unit designated “undifferentiated plains”, or the “Blandlands” of Titan, a mid-latitude terrain unit comprising 25% of the moon’s surface. Undifferentiated plains are notable for its relative featurelessness in radar and infrared. Our interpretation is that it is a fill unit in and around Afekan crater and other hummocky/mountainous units. The plains suggest that the nature of Titan’s geomorphology seems to be tied to ongoing erosional forces and sediment deposition. Other datasets used in characterizing Titan’s various geomorphological units include information obtained from radiometry, infrared (ISS), and spectrometry (VIMS). We will present the detailed geomorphological sketch map with all the terrain units assigned and labeled.