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The Tides of Titan

The Tides of Titan

Publication date: 28 July 2012

Authors: Iess, L., et al.

Journal: Science
Volume: 337
Issue: 6093
Page: 457-459
Year: 2012

Copyright: AAAS

Published online on 28 June 2012

We have detected in Cassini data the signature of the periodic tidal stresses within Titan driven by the eccentricity (e = 0.028) of its 16-day orbit around Saturn. Precise measurements of the acceleration of the Cassini spacecraft during six close flybys between 2006 and 2011 have revealed that Titan responds to the variable tidal field exerted by Saturn with periodic changes of its quadrupole gravity, at about 4% of the static value. Two independent determinations of the corresponding degree-2 Love number yield k2 = 0.589 ± 0.150 and k2 = 0.637 ± 0.224 (2-sigma). Such a large response to the tidal field requires that Titan's interior is deformable over time scales of the orbital period, in a way that is consistent with a global ocean at depth.

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