The Contraction/Expansion History of Charon with implication for its Planetary Scale Tectonic Belt
Malamud et al
The New-Horizons mission to the Kuiper Belt has recently revealed intriguing features on the surface of Charon, including a network of chasmata, cutting across or around a series of high topography features, conjoining to form a belt. It is proposed that this tectonic belt is a consequence of contraction/expansion episodes in the moon's evolution associated particularly with compaction, differentiation and geophysical reactions of the interior. The proposed scenario involves no need for solidification of a vast subsurface ocean and/or a warm initial state. This scenario is based on a new, detailed thermo-physical evolution model of Charon that includes multiple processes. According to the model, Charon experiences two contraction/expansion episodes in its history that may provide the proper environment for the formation of the tectonic belt. This outcome remains qualitatively the same even if we assume a different initial composition and mass. Two alternative explanations for the precise localization and orientation of Charon's tectonic belt are speculated.