The ‘Excess’ Emission from the Warm Surface Adjacent to Active Fissures on Enceladus from Combined VIMS and CIRS Spectra
The exciting discovery of thermal emission from the tiger stripe fissures at the S. pole of Enceladus is a major highlight of the Cassini mission. Both VIMS (Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer) and CIRS (Composite InfraRed Spectrometer) detect the thermal ‘blackbody’ spectrum emitted from the warm fissure areas. The VIMS instrument is uniquely suited to measuring the hottest active locations because VIMS covers the 3 to 5 micron wavelength range where the rising edge of the Planck function for these T~200 K areas dominates the emission spectrum. At longer wavelengths, the spectrum is more complicated because contributions from small hot areas and larger cooler areas combine to form the broad emission spectrum that is detected by the CIRS instrument at wavelengths >6.7 microns. It is the combination of VIMS and CIRS spectra that paint a more complete portrait of the fissure heat transfer processes. Using spectra that span both the VIMS and CIRS wavelengths places a stronger constraint on the T distribution near the fissures than consideration of the spectra from either instrument alone.We show that when the best (= highest spatial resolution, 800 m/pixel and smaller) VIMS and CIRS spectra of the fissure thermal emission are considered together, there is a large (up to 400%) component of ‘excess’ emission spanning 7 to 17 microns that requires explanation. New analysis of ~2 km spatial resolution VIMS spectra of the Damascus hot spot on 8/13/2010 are similar to the highest resolution 4/14/2012 VIMS Baghdad spectra, confirming that differences in location or time between the best VIMS and CIRS spectra do not explain away the excess. The obvious interpretation is that there are processes that transfer heat from the fissure eruption to the surface within 400 m of the fissure center in addition to heat conduction through the fissure walls. Candidate heat transfer processes include fallback of large warm low velocity ice particles from the edges of the plume, and condensation of the low velocity component of water vapor expanding outward from the edge of the plume.This research was conducted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technolgy, Pasadena, CA.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #47
- Pub Date:
- November 2015