Cratering Rates in the Outer Solar SystemWe use several independent constraints on the number of ecliptic comets (aka JFCs) to determine impact cratering rates from Jupiter to Pluto. Long period comets and asteroids are currently unimportant on most worlds at most sizes. The size- number distribution of comets smaller than 20 km is inferred from size-number distributions of impact craters on Europa, Ganymede, and Triton; while the size- number distribution of comets bigger than 50 km is equated to the size-number distribution of Kuiper Belt Objects. The gap is bridged by interpolation. It is notable that small craters on Jupiter's moons indicate a pronounced paucity of small impactors, while small craters on Triton imply a collisional population rich in small bodies. However it is unclear whether the craters on Triton are of heliocentric or planetocentric origin. We therefore consider two cases for Saturn and beyond: a Case A in which the size-number distribution is like that inferred at Jupiter, and a Case B in which small objects obey a more nearly collisional distribution. Known craters on Saturnian and Uranian satellites are consistent with either Case, although surface ages are much younger in Case B, especially at Saturn and Uranus. At Neptune and especially at Saturn our cratering rates are much higher than rates estimated by Shoemaker and colleagues, presumably because Shoemaker's estimates mostly predate discovery of the Kuiper Belt. We also estimate collisional disruption rates of moons and compare these to estimates in the literature .
Zahnle, K. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Schenk, P. (Lunar and Planetary Inst. Houston, TX, United States)
Dones, L. (Southwest Research Inst. United States)
Levison, H. (Southwest Research Inst. United States)