A newly discovered impact crater in Titan's Senkyo: Cassini VIMS observations and comparison with other impact features

B. J. Buratti, C. Sotin, K. Lawrence, R. H. Brown, S. Le Mouélic, J. M. Soderblom, J. Barnes, R. N. Clark, K. H. Baines, P. D. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Senkyo is an equatorial plain on Titan filled with dunes and surrounded by hummocky plateaus. During the Titan targeted flyby T61 on August 25, 2009, the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) onboard the Cassini spacecraft observed a circular feature, centered at 5.4° N and 341°W, that superimposes the dune fields and a bright plateau. This circular feature, which has been named Paxsi by the International Astronomical Union, is 120±10 km in diameter (measured from the outer edge of the crater rim) and exhibits a central bright area that can be interpreted as the central peak or pit of an impact crater. Although there are only a handful of certain impact craters on Titan, there are two other craters that are of similar size to this newly discovered feature and that have been studied by VIMS: Sinlap (Le Mouélic et al, 2008) and Selk (Soderblom et al, 2010). Sinlap is associated with a large downwind, fan-like feature that may have been formed from an impact plume that rapidly expanded and deposited icy particles onto the surface. Although much of the surrounding region is covered with dunes, the plume region is devoid of dunes. The formation process of Selk also appears to have removed (or covered up) dunes from parts of the adjacent dune-filled terrain. The circular feature on Senkyo is quite different: there is no evidence of an ejecta blanket and the crater itself appears to be infilled with dune material. The rim of the crater appears to be eroded by fluvial processes; at one point the rim is breached. The rim is unusually narrow, which may be due to mass wasting on its inside and subsequent infill by dunes. Based on these observations, we interpret this newly discovered feature to be a more eroded crater than both Sinlap and Selk. Paxsi may have formed during a period when Titan was warmer and more ductile than it is currently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Craters
  • Surfaces
  • Titan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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