Near-infrared spectral mapping of Titan's mountains and channels

Jason W. Barnes, Jani Radebaugh, Robert H. Brown, Steve Wall, Laurence Soderblom, Jonathan Lunine, Devon Burr, Christophe Sotin, Stephane Le Mouélic, Sebastien Rodriguez, Bonnie J. Buratti, Roger Clark, Kevin H. Baines, Ralf Jaumann, Phillip D. Nicholson, Randolph L. Kirk, Rosaly Lopes, Ralph D. Lorenz, Karl Mitchell, Charles A. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We investigate the spectral reflectance properties of channels and mountain ranges on Titan using data from Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) obtained during the T9 encounter (26 December 2005). We identify the location of channels and mountains using synthetic aperture radar maps obtained from Cassini's RADAR instrument during the T13 (30 April 2006) flyby. Channels are evident even in VIMS imaging with spatial resolution coarser than the channel size. The channels share spectral characteristics with Titan's dark blue terrain (e.g., the Huygens landing site) that is consistent with an enhancement in water ice content relative to the rest of Titan. We use this fact to measure widths of ∼1 km for the largest channels. Comparison of the data sets shows that in our study area within the equatorial bright spectral unit east of Xanadu, mountains are darker and bluer than surrounding smooth terrain. These results are consistent with the equatorial bright terrain possessing a veneer of material that is thinner in the regions where there are mountains and streambeds that have likely undergone more recent and extensive erosion. We suggest a model for the geographic relationship of the dark blue, dark brown, and equatorial bright spectral units based on our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE11006
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 20 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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