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Elastic thickness and heat flux estimates for the uranian satellite Ariel

  • Author(s): Peterson, G.
  • Nimmo, F.
  • Schenk, P.
  • et al.
Abstract

The surface of Ariel, an icy satellite orbiting Uranus, shows extensional tectonic features suggesting an episode of endogenic heating in the satellite's past. Using topography derived from stereo-photoclinometry, we identified flexural uplift at a rift zone suggesting elastic thickness values in the range 3.8-4.4 km. We estimate the temperature at the base of the lithosphere to be in the range 99 to 146 K, depending on the strain rate assumed, with corresponding heat fluxes of 28-92 mW/m2. Neither tidal heating, assuming Ariel's current eccentricity, nor radiogenic heat production from the silicate core are enough to cause the inferred heat fluxes. None of three proposed ancient mean-motion resonances produce equilibrium tidal heating values in excess of 4.3 mW/m2. Thus, the origin of the inferred high heat fluxes is currently mysterious.

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