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Cratering Rates in the Jovian SystemWe use several independent constraints on the number of ecliptic comets to estimate impact cratering rates on the Jupiter moons. The impact rate on Jupiter by 1.5-km diameter ecliptic comets is currently NY(d > 1.5km) = 0.005(+0.006)(-0.003) per annum. Asteroids and long period comets are currently unimportant. The size-number distribution of ecliptic comets smaller than 20 km is inferred from size-number distributions of impact craters on Europa, Ganymede, and Triton. For comets bigger than 50 km we use the size-number distribution of Kuiper Belt Objects. The overview of the impact rate at Jupiter in general and at Europa in particular are given. These impact rates imply cratering rates on Europa of 0.5 per Ma per 10(exp 6) sq km for impact craters bigger than 1 km, and of 0.015 per Ma per 10(exp 6) sq km for impact craters bigger than 20 km. The latter corresponds to an average recurrence time of 2.2 Ma for 20 km craters. The best current estimates for the number of 20 km craters on Europa appear to range between about twelve to thirty. This implies that the average age of Europa's surface is between 30 and 70 Ma. The average density of craters with diameter greater than 1 km on well-mapped swaths on Europa is 30 per 10(exp 6) sq km. The corresponding nominal surface age would be 60 Ma. These two estimates are not truly independent because we have used size-number distribution of the Europan craters to help generate the size-number distribution of comets. The uncertainty of the best estimate - call it 42 Ma for specificity - is at least a factor of 3.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Zahnle, K. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Dons, L. (Lunar and Planetary Inst. Houston, TX, United States)
Levison, H. (Southwest Research Inst. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Workshop on Europa's Icy Shell: Past, Present, and Future
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20040055312Analytic PrimaryWorkshop on Europa's Icy Shell: Past, Present, and Future
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