Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eight-color maps of Titan’s surface from spectroscopy with Huygens’ DISR

Eight-color maps of Titan’s surface from spectroscopy with Huygens’ DISR


Karkoschka et al


During the descent of the Huygens probe in Titan’s atmosphere, the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR) acquired spectra of 3660 locations within 250 km of the landing site. Each spectrum consisted of 200 resolution elements between 480 and 960 nm wavelength. With the help of radiative transfer models, contributions from the atmosphere and surface were separated. In eight methane windows, the data were combined into a map of Titan’s surface reflectivity with 250 km diameter near the landing site. Principal component analysis revealed three significant components, a brightness component that is consistent with a mosaic based on DISR imaging of much higher spatial resolution, a spectral slope component, and a spectral curvature component. The brightness component has stronger contrasts at longer wavelengths, or brighter areas have a larger spectral slope, consistent with previous results (Keller et al. [2008]. Planet. Space Sci. 56, 728–752). The second component corresponds to small differences in spectral slopes that are not correlated with features seen before except for an area with unusual high spectral slope found by the same authors and confirmed here. Our map of the second component gives another important parameter in characterizing and understanding Titan’s surface. The third principal component is somewhat noisy and describes variation in the spectral curvature that have never seen before at similar wavelengths. These variations require processes to differentiate surface spectra. To extend this work to longer wavelengths, 62 spectra from 850 to 1600 nm wavelength were investigated too, although the much lower number of spatial resolution points revealed only two significant components in the principal component analysis. They correlate with the first two components found in the shorter wavelength data. We also compare our results with an observation by Cassini’s Visible Imager/Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) that imaged part of our investigated area with 4096 spatial resolution elements. Both data sets are complementary. DISR data extend to about 1500 nm wavelength while most surface features are seen in the VIMS data beyond 1500 nm.

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