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Determining Titan surface topography from Cassini SAR data

Icarus

By:
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Abstract

A technique, referred to as SARTopo, has been developed for obtaining surface height estimates with 10 km horizontal resolution and 75 m vertical resolution of the surface of Titan along each Cassini Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) swath. We describe the technique and present maps of the co-located data sets. A global map and regional maps of Xanadu and the northern hemisphere hydrocarbon lakes district are included in the results. A strength of the technique is that it provides topographic information co-located with SAR imagery. Having a topographic context vastly improves the interpretability of the SAR imagery and is essential for understanding Titan. SARTopo is capable of estimating surface heights for most of the SAR-imaged surface of Titan. Currently nearly 30% of the surface is within 100 km of a SARTopo height profile. Other competing techniques provide orders of magnitude less coverage. We validate the SARTopo technique through comparison with known geomorphological features such as mountain ranges and craters, and by comparison with co-located nadir altimetry, including a 3000 km strip that had been observed by SAR a month earlier. In this area, the SARTopo and nadir altimetry data sets are co-located tightly (within 5-10 km for one 500 km section), have similar resolution, and as expected agree closely in surface height. Furthermore the region contains prominent high spatial resolution topography, so it provides an excellent test of the resolution and precision of both techniques.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Determining Titan surface topography from Cassini SAR data
Series title:
Icarus
Volume
202
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier
Publisher location:
Atlanta, GA
Contributing office(s):
Astrogeology Science Center
Description:
15 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
584
Last page:
598