A Wunda-full world? carbon dioxide ice deposits on Umbriel and other Uranian moons

Michael M. Sori, Jonathan Bapst, Ali M. Bramson, Shane Byrne, Margaret E. Landis

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

Carbon dioxide has been detected on the trailing hemispheres of several Uranian satellites, but the exact nature and distribution of the molecules remain unknown. One such satellite, Umbriel, has a prominent high albedo annulus-shaped feature within the 131-km-diameter impact crater Wunda. We hypothesize that this feature is a solid deposit of CO2 ice. We combine thermal and ballistic transport modeling to study the evolution of CO2 molecules on the surface of Umbriel, a high-obliquity (∼98°) body. Considering processes such as sublimation and Jeans escape, we find that CO2 ice migrates to low latitudes on geologically short (100s–1000 s of years) timescales. Crater morphology and location create a local cold trap inside Wunda, and the slopes of crater walls and a central peak explain the deposit's annular shape. The high albedo and thermal inertia of CO2 ice relative to regolith allows deposits 15-m-thick or greater to be stable over the age of the solar system. We conclude that Wunda, located at low latitude (7.9° S) and near the center of the trailing hemisphere where CO2 detections are strongest, likely contains a solid CO2 ice deposit. We discuss prospects for similar CO2 ice deposits on crater floors on the other major Uranian moons, and predict that they are present on Ariel, Titania, and possibly Oberon (but not Miranda or smaller satellites). Such deposits have likely not been observed due to the limited nature of Voyager 2 image coverage.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages1-13
Number of pages13
JournalIcarus
Volume290
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

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Umbriel
natural satellites
carbon dioxide
ice
deposits
Moon
world
crater
craters
albedo
hemispheres
tropical regions
molecules
sublimation
obliquity
regolith
inertia
solar system
titanium
timescale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

A Wunda-full world? carbon dioxide ice deposits on Umbriel and other Uranian moons. / Sori, Michael M.; Bapst, Jonathan; Bramson, Ali M.; Byrne, Shane; Landis, Margaret E.

In: Icarus, Vol. 290, 01.07.2017, p. 1-13.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Sori MM, Bapst J, Bramson AM, Byrne S, Landis ME. A Wunda-full world? carbon dioxide ice deposits on Umbriel and other Uranian moons. Icarus. 2017 Jul 1;290:1-13. Available from, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.02.029
Sori, Michael M. ; Bapst, Jonathan ; Bramson, Ali M. ; Byrne, Shane ; Landis, Margaret E./ A Wunda-full world? carbon dioxide ice deposits on Umbriel and other Uranian moons. In: Icarus. 2017 ; Vol. 290. pp. 1-13
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