NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Triton's cratering record and its time of captureRecent impact crater counts on the Voyager 2 high resolution images of Triton have resulted in a more accurate crater size/frequency distribution down to about 3 km diameter. These counts reveal a size/frequency distribution characterized by a differential -4 slope. This is consistent with the observation that there are no craters larger than 27 km diameter on the 20 percent of Triton viewed at resolutions capable of detecting them. A -4 slope is deficient in large craters and at the very low crater density on Triton no craters larger than about 30 km are expected on just 20 percent of the satellite. The Triton size distribution is significantly different from the differential -3 slope of the fresh crater population on Miranda, but both show leading/trailing asymmetries. Since Miranda is in prograde orbit this crater population is probably due to objects in heliocentric orbit, i.e., comets. If this crater population is due to comets, then the significantly different crater population on Triton is probably due to some other population of impacting objects. The most likely origin of these objects is planetesimals in planetocentric orbits. Because Triton is in retrograde orbit, objects in prograde planetocentric orbits will also produce a leading/trailing asymmetry. If the Triton craters are largely the result of objects in planetocentric orbit, then where are the comet craters that should be there if they have a differential -3 distribution function as inferred from the Miranda fresh crater population? The most likely answer is that they are there, but at such a low density that they can not be distinguished from the planetocentric population. An upper bound on this density can be estimated by determining the density of a crater population with a differential -3 slope where no craters larger than 27 km would be expected on the 20 percent of Triton viewed by Voyager at resolutions sufficient to detect them. This density is at the density of the largest crater. At this density the number of craters in size bins greater than 27 km is less than 1 for a -3 distribution function. The observed size distribution, the upper limit of the hypothetical comet crater size distribution, and the difference between the observed and the hypothetical comet crater populations is shown.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Strom, R. G. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Croft, S. K. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Related Records

IDRelationTitle19940015909Analytic PrimaryWorkshop on the Martian Northern Plains: Sedimentological, Periglacial, and Paleoclimatic Evolution19940016163Analytic PrimaryTwenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z