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Electron bombardment on Dione: surface compositional effects and temperature anomalies

Presentation #109.02 in the session “Icy Satellites: Surface and Above”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Electron bombardment on Dione: surface compositional effects and temperature anomalies

Saturn’s icy moons are composed primarily of water ice with minor other “contaminants,” such as CO2 ice, and a dark component thought to be organics, hematite and/or metallic Fe [1]. The space weathering process of electron bombardment is expected to be particularly important on the surfaces of Saturn’s inner moons (Mimas, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea), as they orbit within Saturn’s inner magnetosphere. Terrains exhibiting thermal anomalies (i.e., colder temperatures in the day and warmer temperatures at night than surrounding areas) correspond to regions of high energy electron bombardment [2; 3; 4; 5]. Energetic electrons impact the surfaces, sintering ice grains together, and this process becomes more effective for increasing particle energies [6]. Solar UV radiation, cosmic rays, dust in-fall, and cold plasma particles trapped in Saturn’s magnetic field also play an important role in altering the nature and the structure of the native surface ices by the implantation of contaminants, ionization, sputtering, and dissociation of water ice molecules [7]. Additionally, CO2 could be sourced from irradiation of dark organic material [8]. Many of these surface alterations are observable in Cassini’s Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) spectra [9]. We used similar methodologies as have been employed in previous works [e.g., 10] to derive surface temperatures from Cassini’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), which helped to isolate areas where space weathering due to electron bombardment is more predominant. The subtle changes in VIMS spectra were investigated using machine learning techniques. We present here our results for Dione.

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  2. Howett, C. J. A., et al. (2020) Icarus, 113745

  3. Nordheim, T. A., et al. (2017) Icarus, 286, 56-68

  4. Paranicas, C., et al. (2012) Planetary and Space Science, 61, 60-65

  5. Paranicas, C., et al. (2014) Icarus, 234, 155-161

  6. Schaible, M. J., et al. (2016) Icarus, 0, 1-13

  7. Baragiola, R. A., et al., (2013) Astrophysics and Space Science Library, vol. 356. Springer

  8. Mennella, V., et al. (2006) The Astrophysical Journal, 643(2), 923

  9. Scipioni, F., et al. (2017) Icarus, 290, 183-200

  10. Howett, C. J. A., et al. (2014) Icarus, 241, 239-247


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