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Size and shape of Saturn's moon Titan

Science

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Abstract

Cassini observations show that Saturn's moon Titan is slightly oblate. A fourth-order spherical harmonic expansion yields north polar, south polar, and mean equatorial radii of 2574.32 ± 0.05 kilometers (km), 2574.36 ± 0.03 km, and 2574.91 ± 0.11 km, respectively; its mean radius is 2574.73 ± 0.09 km. Titan's shape approximates a hydrostatic, synchronously rotating triaxial ellipsoid but is best fit by such a body orbiting closer to Saturn than Titan presently does. Titan's lack of high relief implies that most—but not all—of the surface features observed with the Cassini imaging subsystem and synthetic aperture radar are uncorrelated with topography and elevation. Titan's depressed polar radii suggest that a constant geopotential hydrocarbon table could explain the confinement of the hydrocarbon lakes to high latitudes.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Size and shape of Saturn's moon Titan
Series title:
Science
Volume
324
Issue:
5929
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Publisher:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Astrogeology Science Center
Description:
3 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Science
First page:
921
Last page:
923
Other Geospatial:
Saturn's Moon Titan