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Titan’s internal structure and the evolutionary consequences

Fortes, Andrew Dominic (2012) Titan’s internal structure and the evolutionary consequences. Planetary and Space Science 60 (1), pp. 10-17. ISSN 0032-0633.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2011.04.010

Abstract

Titan’s moment of inertia (MoI), estimated from the quadrupole gravity field measured by the Cassini spacecraft, is 0.342, which has been interpreted as evidence of a partially differentiated internal mass distribution. It is shown here that the observed MoI is equally consistent with a fully differentiated internal structure comprising a shell of water ice overlying a low-density silicate core; depending on the chemistry of Titan’s subsurface ocean, the core radius is between 1980 and 2120 km, and its uncompressed density is 2570–2460 kg m−3, suggestive of a hydrated CI carbonaceous chondrite mineralogy. Both the partially differentiated and fully differentiated hydrated core models constrain the deep interior to be several hundred degrees cooler than previously thought. I propose that Titan has a warm wet core below, or buffered at, the high-pressure dehydration temperature of its hydrous constituents, and that many of the gases evolved by thermochemical and radiogenic processes in the core (such as CH4 and 40Ar, respectively) diffuse into the icy mantle to form clathrate hydrates, which in turn may provide a comparatively impermeable barrier to further diffusion. Hence we should not necessarily expect to see a strong isotopic signature of serpentinization in Titan’s atmosphere.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Titan, satellite interiors, serpentinization
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences > UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2011 10:59
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2013 15:31
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/3836

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