Modeling Tidal Stresses on Planetary Bodies Using an Enhanced SatStress GUI

Thursday, 18 December 2014
D Alex Patthoff1, Robert T Pappalardo1, Lee Tang2, Jonathan Kay3 and Simon A Kattenhorn4, (1)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Earth an Environmental Sciences, Chicago, IL, United States, (4)ConocoPhillips Company Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Icy and rocky satellites of our solar system display a wide range of structural deformation on their surfaces. Some surfaces are old and heavily cratered showing little evidence for recent tectonism while other surfaces are sparsely cratered and young, with some moons showing geologically very recent or present-day activity. The young deformation can take the form of small cracks in the surface, large double ridges that can extend for thousands of km, and mountain ranges that can reach heights of several kilometers. Many of the potential sources of stress that can deform the surfaces are likely tied to the diurnal tidal deformation of the moons as they orbit their parent planets. Other secular sources of global-scale stress include: volume change induced by the melting or freezing of a subsurface liquid layer, change in the orbital parameters of the moon, or rotation of the outer shell of the satellite relative to the rest of the body (nonsynchronous rotation or true polar wander). We turn to computer modeling to correlate observed structural features to the possible stresses that created them. A variety of modeling programs exist and generally assume a thin ice shell and/or a multi-layered viscoelastic satellite. The program SatStress, which was developed by Zane Crawford and documented by Wahr et al. (2009), computes tidal and nonsynchronous rotation stresses on a satellite. It was later modified into a more user-friendly version with a graphical user interface (SatStress GUI) by Kay and Kattenhorn (2010). This implementation assumes a 4-layer viscoelastic body and is able to calculate stresses resulting from diurnal tides, nonsynchronous rotation, and ice shell thickening. Here we illustrate our recent enhancements to SatStress GUI and compare modeled stresses to example features observed on the surfaces of Ganymede, Europa, and Enceladus.

Kay and Kattenhorn (2010) 41st LPSC, abs # 2046.

Wahr et al. (2009) Icarus, 200, 188–206.