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Photometric diversity of terrains on TritonVoyager disk-resolved images of Triton in the violet (0.41 micrometers) and green (0.56 micrometer wavelengths have been analyzed to derive the photometric characteristics of terrains on Triton. Similar conclusions are found using two distinct but related definitions of photometric units, one based on color ratio and albedo properties (A. S. McEwen, 1990), the other on albedo and brightness ratios at different phase angles (P. Lee et al., 1992). A significant diversity of photometric behavior, much broader than that discovered so far on any other icy satellite, occurs among Triton's terrains. Remarkably, differences in photometric behavior do not correlate well with geologic terrain boundaries defined on the basis of surface morphology. This suggests that in most cases photometric properties on Triton are controlled by thin deposits superposed on underlying geologic units. Single scattering albedos are 0.98 or higher and asymmetry factors range from -0.35 to -0.45 for most units. The most distinct scattering behavior is exhibited by the reddish northern units already identified as the Anomalously Scattering Region (ASR), which scatters light almost isotropically with g = -0.04. In part due to the effects of Triton's clouds and haze, it is difficult to constrain the value of bar-theta, Hapke's macroscopic roughness parameter, precisely for Triton or to map differences in bar-theta among the different photometric terrains. However, our study shows that Triton must be relatively smooth, with bar-theta less than 15-20 degs and suggests that a value of 14 degs is appropriate. The differences in photometric characteristics lead to significantly different phase angle behavior for the various terrains. For example, a terrain (e.g., the ASR) that appears dark relative to another at low phase angles will reverse its contrast (become relatively brighter) at larger phase angles. The photometric parameters have been used to calculate hemispherical albedos for the units and to infer likely surface temperatures. Based on these results, we determine that all but the most southerly regions (i.e., mostly south of the equator) of the reddish northern terrains are likely to have been covered with deposits of nitrogen frost at the time of the Voyager flyby, in agreement with the suggestion from the photometry that these units are overlain by a thin veneer of material.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Hillier, J. (Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY, United States)
Veverka, J. (Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY, United States)
Helfenstein, P. (Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY, United States)
Lee, P. (Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 109
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits