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Terrestrial Craters as Analogs for Degraded Craters on Titan

Presentation #509.04 in the session Titan Craters, Chemistry and Exploration.

Published onOct 20, 2022
Terrestrial Craters as Analogs for Degraded Craters on Titan

Titan and Earth share several commonalities. For example, they are the only known planetary bodies in our Solar System to have flowing liquids on their surface. Stream channels are observed near impact craters on both worlds, such as Selk and Sinlap in Titan’s dune fields. However, the formation of these stream channels is not well understood. We wish to study the formation of drainage networks around Titan’s craters, to determine what role the presence of faults and different geologic units places in their formation. To do this, we will study the relationship between fault lines and differing rock types around Earth’s craters as an analog to Titan. The Dragonfly mission hopes to use existing stream channels to sample the subsurface material within Selk crater. Research on stream formation near Selk crater may prove beneficial to the Dragonfly mission, as it will be landing there in the mid-2030s.

For this study, we use the terrestrial craters, Haughton and Ries, as analogs for Sinlap and Selk craters on Titan. Haughton is located on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic and Ries is located in southern Germany. Both Haughton and Ries are complex craters less than 5 million years old and have clear drainage systems. We highlight these terrestrial craters’ stream channels and faulting networks through ArcGIS to quantify the percentage of overlap between the faults and streams. We also conduct an analysis of the correlation between target material and stream channel location for Haughton and Ries. This information, combined with an evaluation of the local geology, allows us to compare our findings from the terrestrial craters to Cassini RADAR images of Selk and Sinlap. The correlations we find between the images may pinpoint key factors for steam channel formation around impact craters on Titan.

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