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Gravity Field, Shape, and Moment of Inertia of Titan

Gravity Field, Shape, and Moment of Inertia of Titan

Publication date: 12 March 2010

Authors: Iess, L. et al.

Journal: Science
Volume: 327
Issue: 5971
Page: 1367-1369
Year: 2010

Copyright: AAAS

Precise radio tracking of the spacecraft Cassini has provided a determination of Titan's mass and gravity harmonics to degree 3. The quadrupole field is consistent with a hydrostatically relaxed body shaped by tidal and rotational effects. The inferred moment of inertia factor is about 0.34, implying incomplete differentiation, either in the sense of imperfect separation of rock from ice or a core in which a large amount of water remains chemically bound in silicates. The equilibrium figure is a triaxial ellipsoid whose semi-axes a, b, and c differ by 410 meters (a - c) and 103 meters (b - c). The nonhydrostatic geoid height variations (up to 19 meters) are small compared to the observed topographic anomalies of hundreds of meters, suggesting a high degree of compensation appropriate to a body that has warm ice at depth.

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