Surface Composition and Physical Mixture State of the Regoliths of Outer Solar System Satellites: The Role of Scattering and Absorption by the non-Ice Components and Implications for Rayleigh Absorption and Rayleigh Scattering

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Roger Nelson Clark1, Zachary S Perlman2, Neil Pearson3, Amanda R Hendrix1, Jeffrey N Cuzzi4, Dale P Cruikshank4, Eric Todd Bradley5, Gianrico Filacchione6, Philip D Nicholson7, Matthew M Hedman7, Robert Hamilton Brown8, Bonnie J Buratti9, Kevin H Baines10, Christophe Sotin9 and Robert M. Nelson11, (1)Planetary Science Institute Tucson, Tucson, AZ, United States, (2)Perlman, Davie, FL, United States, (3)University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV, United States, (4)NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States, (5)Univ of Central FL-Physics, Orlando, FL, United States, (6)IAPS-INAF, Rome, Italy, (7)Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States, (8)University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States, (9)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States, (10)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (11)Planetary Science Institute, Pasadena, CA, United States
Many outer Solar System satellites have surfaces dominated by water ice and a mysterious material(s) causing strong visible to ultraviolet absorption along with trace other compounds with infrared absorptions, including CO2 and organics. Various mechanisms have been proposed for the UV absorber, including tholins, iron oxides, and nano-sized metallic iron particles (e.g. see Clark et al., 2012, Icarus v218 p831, and references therein). We have constructed extensive laboratory analog measurements and radiative transfer modeling of the materials and scattering conditions that can contribute to the optical properties seen on outer Solar System satellites. We have successfully modeled Rayleigh absorption and Rayleigh scattering to produce spectral shapes typical of those seen in spectra of icy Solar System satellites, including those in the Saturn system observed with the Cassini UVIS and VIMS instruments. While it is easy to create these absorptions with radiative transfer modeling, it has been more difficult to do with laboratory analogs. We are finding that laboratory analogs refine and restricts the possible mixing states of the UV absorber in icy satellite surfaces. We have found that just because a particle is highly absorbing, as in metallic iron, if the particle is not embedded in another matrix, scattering will dominate over absorption and Rayleigh absorption will not be observed. Further, the closer the indices of refraction match between the absorbing particle and the matrix, there will be less scattering and more absorption will occur. But we have also found this to be true with other absorbing material, like Tholins. It is very difficult to obtain the very low reflectances observed in the UV in icy satellite spectra using traditional intimate mixtures, as scattering and first surface reflections contribute significantly to the reflectance. The solution, both from radiative transfer modeling and laboratory analogs point to embedded absorbing materials. For example, nano-phase metallic iron embedded in a less absorbing silicate matrix as meteoritic dust infall onto satellite
surfaces is one explanation. An alternative would be tholins embedded in the ice. Spectral features should be able to distinguish between these and other possibilities and will be explored.