Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Titan's Evaporites are as Varied as on Earth

Compositional Similarities and Distinctions between Titan's Evaporitic Terrains


MacKenzie et al


We document the similarities in composition between the equatorial basins Tui Regio, Hotei Regio, and other 5-μm-bright materials, notably the north polar evaporites, by investigating the presence and extent of an absorption feature at 4.92 μm. In most observations, Woytchugga Lacuna, Ontario Lacus, MacKay Lacus, deposits near Fensal, some of the lakes and dry lake beds south of Ligeia, and the southern shores of Kraken Mare share the absorption feature at 4.92 \um observed in the spectra of Tui and Hotei. Besides Woytchugga and at Fensal, these 5-μm-bright deposits are geomorphologically-substantiated evaporites. Thus, the similarity in composition strengthens the hypothesis that Tui and Hotei once contained liquid. Other evaporite deposits, however, do not show the 4.92 \um absorption, notably Muggel Lacus and the shores of Ligeia Mare at the north pole. This difference in composition suggests that there are more than one kind of soluble material in Titan's lakes that can create evaporite and/or that the surface properties at the VIMS wavelength scale are not uniform between the different deposits (crystal size, abundance, etc). Our results indicate that the surface structure, composition, and formation history of Titan's evaporites may be at least as dynamic and complex as their Earth counterparts.

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