Thermal effects of insolation propagation into the regoliths of airless bodies

Robert H. Brown, Dennis L. Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We have investigated thermal models for planetary surfaces composed of particles that are bright and optically thin in the visual, and dark and opaque in the thermal infrared. The models incorporate the assumption that insolation is absorbed over a finite distance in the regolith, predicting lower daytime and higher nighttime temperatures than those predicted if the insolation were a absorbed only at the surface. The magnitude of the effect depends on the scale length for absorption of insolation relative to the diurnal skin depth for thermal diffusion, and can be significant when insolation penetrates to a depth comparable to the diurnal skin depth. In particular, for bodies like Enceladus and Europa, the maximum daytime temperature depression and nighttime temperature elevation can be 10°K or more for penetration-depth scales ∼ 1.5 cm. If insolation penetrates deeply enough into a surface, and the thermal-infrared opacity of its constituent particles is very high (e.g., in a regolith composed of particles of water ice), a solid-state greenhouse can result! This has important implications for geophysical models of high-albedo, icy bodies because actual boundary-layer temperatures may in fact be significantly higher than those assumed in previous studies, making it easier to melt the interiors of such bodies. Another important implication of the models is that where insolation- penetration is significant, thermal inertias inferred from models that do not allow for this effect will be upper limits to the real thermal inertia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-94
Number of pages11
JournalIcarus
Volume72
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

insolation
temperature effect
temperature effects
propagation
regolith
daytime
inertia
skin
penetration
Enceladus
planetary surfaces
Europa
planetary surface
temperature
greenhouses
thermal diffusion
opacity
albedo
boundary layers
ice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Thermal effects of insolation propagation into the regoliths of airless bodies. / Brown, Robert H.; Matson, Dennis L.

In: Icarus, Vol. 72, No. 1, 1987, p. 84-94.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{20ad4a8c391d476da66403e010c83c89,
title = "Thermal effects of insolation propagation into the regoliths of airless bodies",
abstract = "We have investigated thermal models for planetary surfaces composed of particles that are bright and optically thin in the visual, and dark and opaque in the thermal infrared. The models incorporate the assumption that insolation is absorbed over a finite distance in the regolith, predicting lower daytime and higher nighttime temperatures than those predicted if the insolation were a absorbed only at the surface. The magnitude of the effect depends on the scale length for absorption of insolation relative to the diurnal skin depth for thermal diffusion, and can be significant when insolation penetrates to a depth comparable to the diurnal skin depth. In particular, for bodies like Enceladus and Europa, the maximum daytime temperature depression and nighttime temperature elevation can be 10°K or more for penetration-depth scales ∼ 1.5 cm. If insolation penetrates deeply enough into a surface, and the thermal-infrared opacity of its constituent particles is very high (e.g., in a regolith composed of particles of water ice), a solid-state greenhouse can result! This has important implications for geophysical models of high-albedo, icy bodies because actual boundary-layer temperatures may in fact be significantly higher than those assumed in previous studies, making it easier to melt the interiors of such bodies. Another important implication of the models is that where insolation- penetration is significant, thermal inertias inferred from models that do not allow for this effect will be upper limits to the real thermal inertia.",
author = "Brown, {Robert H.} and Matson, {Dennis L.}",
year = "1987",
doi = "10.1016/0019-1035(87)90122-9",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "72",
pages = "84--94",
journal = "Icarus",
issn = "0019-1035",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Thermal effects of insolation propagation into the regoliths of airless bodies

AU - Brown, Robert H.

AU - Matson, Dennis L.

PY - 1987

Y1 - 1987

N2 - We have investigated thermal models for planetary surfaces composed of particles that are bright and optically thin in the visual, and dark and opaque in the thermal infrared. The models incorporate the assumption that insolation is absorbed over a finite distance in the regolith, predicting lower daytime and higher nighttime temperatures than those predicted if the insolation were a absorbed only at the surface. The magnitude of the effect depends on the scale length for absorption of insolation relative to the diurnal skin depth for thermal diffusion, and can be significant when insolation penetrates to a depth comparable to the diurnal skin depth. In particular, for bodies like Enceladus and Europa, the maximum daytime temperature depression and nighttime temperature elevation can be 10°K or more for penetration-depth scales ∼ 1.5 cm. If insolation penetrates deeply enough into a surface, and the thermal-infrared opacity of its constituent particles is very high (e.g., in a regolith composed of particles of water ice), a solid-state greenhouse can result! This has important implications for geophysical models of high-albedo, icy bodies because actual boundary-layer temperatures may in fact be significantly higher than those assumed in previous studies, making it easier to melt the interiors of such bodies. Another important implication of the models is that where insolation- penetration is significant, thermal inertias inferred from models that do not allow for this effect will be upper limits to the real thermal inertia.

AB - We have investigated thermal models for planetary surfaces composed of particles that are bright and optically thin in the visual, and dark and opaque in the thermal infrared. The models incorporate the assumption that insolation is absorbed over a finite distance in the regolith, predicting lower daytime and higher nighttime temperatures than those predicted if the insolation were a absorbed only at the surface. The magnitude of the effect depends on the scale length for absorption of insolation relative to the diurnal skin depth for thermal diffusion, and can be significant when insolation penetrates to a depth comparable to the diurnal skin depth. In particular, for bodies like Enceladus and Europa, the maximum daytime temperature depression and nighttime temperature elevation can be 10°K or more for penetration-depth scales ∼ 1.5 cm. If insolation penetrates deeply enough into a surface, and the thermal-infrared opacity of its constituent particles is very high (e.g., in a regolith composed of particles of water ice), a solid-state greenhouse can result! This has important implications for geophysical models of high-albedo, icy bodies because actual boundary-layer temperatures may in fact be significantly higher than those assumed in previous studies, making it easier to melt the interiors of such bodies. Another important implication of the models is that where insolation- penetration is significant, thermal inertias inferred from models that do not allow for this effect will be upper limits to the real thermal inertia.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0003324946&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0003324946&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/0019-1035(87)90122-9

DO - 10.1016/0019-1035(87)90122-9

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0003324946

VL - 72

SP - 84

EP - 94

JO - Icarus

JF - Icarus

SN - 0019-1035

IS - 1

ER -