The leading edge of Iapetus is covered with a dark material that is carbon rich, suggested to be either a carbonaceous layer (Smith el al 1982), CH4 and NH3 embedded in water ice (Squyres et al 1983), or nitrogen-rich tholin and amorphous carbon (Buratti et al 2005). Laboratory experiments have shown that CO2 can be generated from such material both by photolysis (Allamandola, Sandford & Valero 1988) and radiolysis (Strazzulla & Palumbo 1998).We consider the accumulation of CO2 that could be photolytically generated and sequestered in the polar regions of Iapetus. The polar regions provide only a temporary cold trap for CO2, and any polar cap is expected to be seasonal in nature. Using a numerical model to track the movement of CO2, we find that as CO2 moves between poles, 10% of it would reach escape velocity and be lost from the system every solar orbit (29.46 years). CO2 would accumulate until its loss rate equaled its production rate; thus, the quantity of CO2 in a polar cap would be 10 times the amount produced in a single solar orbit. Provided that the generation of CO2 is large enough, Cassini VIMS would be able to detect a seasonal CO2 polar cap. Since the polar regions are comprised of water ice and do not have the same coating of carbon rich dark material as the dark side, any 4.26 micron band absorption would be CO2 frost rather than complexed CO2.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #39
- Pub Date:
- October 2007